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Clot-Busting Drug Offers New Approach to DVT
Date:1/29/2008

Injecting directly into clots prevents recurrence and painful side effects, small trial finds

TUESDAY, Jan. 29 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to treating deep vein thrombosis, injecting the clot-busting drug alteplase (rTPA) directly into clots in the legs reduces the risk of complications and recurrence, a small U.S. study suggests.

Adding rTPA to the standard treatment of blood thinners appears to completely destroy the clots, something not achieved by blood thinners alone, according to the researchers.

"The anticoagulation therapy that you get for DVT is pretty good at protecting you from pulmonary embolism, which is the life-threatening part of DVT," said study author Dr. Richard Chang, of the National Institute of Health's Department of Diagnostic Radiology.

DVT is the formation of blood clots in veins deep within the legs. These clots can turn life-threatening when they become dislodged and travel through the veins into the lungs, where they can block pulmonary veins, causing breathing problems and even death. Some 250,000 people in the United States suffer a first episode of DVT each year.

The problem with blood-thinning therapy is that it doesn't completely remove the clots in the leg veins, Chang said. "So, years down the line, about a third of the people develop post-thrombotic syndrome," he said.

Post-thrombotic syndrome can cause severe leg pain, difficulty walking and skin changes and venous ulcers. Dissolving the clot can help prevent this syndrome, Chang said.

For the study, researchers treated 20 DVT patients with a course of blood-thinning therapy. They were also given daily 50-milligram injections of rTPA for a maximum of four days. During a three-year follow-up, none of the patients developed complications associated with DVT or
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