Cure for Deep Vein Thrombosis?
New Technique Dissolves Blood Clots in Leg, Relieves Symptoms
WebMD News Archive
DVT = Emergency continued...
Interventional radiologists sometimes use infusions of clot-busting drugs such as tPA to
dissolve DVT clots. Patients who receive these continuous infusions of
clot-dissolving drugs are at high risk of dangerous bleeding in the brain and
in other organs.
To avoid this problem, Chang and colleagues apply tiny doses of tPA directly
to the clot. None of the study's 20 patients suffered bleeding.
"The beauty of tPA is it is cleared in five minutes by the liver, so any
excess is quickly removed. The tPA we put into the clot stays on the clot and
continues to work. So we reduce the duration of time the circulation is exposed
to these enzymes," Chang says.
DVT Symptoms Gone
According to the Society for Interventional Radiology, 60% to 70% of DVT
patients suffer post-thrombotic syndrome. These people have abnormal pooling of
blood in the leg, chronic
fatigue, swelling, and sometimes even severe skin ulcers.
And about half of DVT patients suffer a second DVT, says Jorge J. Guerra
Jr., MD, professor of vascular/interventional radiology and associate vice
president for clinical affairs at the University of Miami Miller School of
Guerra is impressed that in the Chang study, which followed patients for an
average 3.4 years -- and up to 8.5 years -- none of the patients had a second
DVT and none of the patients suffered further vein deterioration.
"By getting the veins back to normal, he is preventing a second DVT, which
is more disturbing than a first one," Guerra tells WebMD. "This is a laudable
Dissolving DVT Clots: Lots of Doctor/Patient Time, Patience
To treat DVT patients, Chang and colleagues started off with standard
anticoagulant treatment. Despite this treatment, they found that 40% of
patients already had a pulmonary embolism; fortunately, these were not
Next, patients had to be treated within two weeks of suffering their DVT,
while the clots were still fresh. Once a DVT clot hardens, Chang says, the
treatment will not work.
During treatment, NIH interventional radiologists painstakingly threaded
catheters into the tiny veins blocked by blood clots. This process took as long
as four and a half hours, Chang says.