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Deep Vein Thrombosis Health Center

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Cure for Deep Vein Thrombosis?

New Technique Dissolves Blood Clots in Leg, Relieves Symptoms

Dissolving DVT Clots: Lots of Doctor/Patient Time, Patience continued...

But that's not all. The doctors then "laced" the clot with tPA by repeatedly injecting small amounts of the drug through the catheter as they slowly moved it along the clot. There could easily be 100 small injections at 30-second intervals, Chang said.

The procedure is then repeated up to four times as needed, although the most time-consuming part -- threading the catheters into the veins -- does not have to be repeated. Most patients needed two or three treatments.

"We will have to bring the time down. We have to make it simpler. But then, eventually, we will see a practical treatment," Chang says.

"This is tedious as hell. And most of us don't have just one set of veins in the calf, but duplicate veins -- so it's a double procedure," Guerra says. "But if it can save those people with post-thrombotic syndrome, you might be doing a large service, particularly in young women, who get a double whammy: a swollen leg covered with spider veins."

If the procedure is tough on the doctor, it's no easier on the patient.

"I am not sure what they did with the others, but they did not put me out on the first day," McDonald says. "I'd just had a baby three weeks before, and I have back problems, so that was the hardest part. There were three catheters, two in my groin and one in my neck, and my back was in spasms the whole time. I cried for the whole eight hours of the procedure. The next day they put me out. That was better."

Was it worth it?

"It was not very fun, but I would do it again in a heartbeat because it saved my leg," McDonald says.

The new treatment has huge advantages over another new treatment. Interventional radiologists already are using a mechanical suction device to vacuum away blood clots loosened by infusion of clot-dissolving drugs.

"The advantage of the mechanical device is it is quick," Chang says. "If the clot is fresh and soft, you can establish a channel in half an hour. But the problem is that DVT often involves the small veins of the calf, and these devices are not easy to move into calf veins. Whereas you can get enzymes into the calf with a catheter."

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