OAK BROOK, Ill. A novel treatment for blood clots in the legs appears to be safe and effective, according to a pilot study published in the February issue of Radiology. The study found that injecting or lacing the clot with a fiber-binding thrombolytic agent effectively treats deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and reduces the risk of subsequent recurrence or bleeding.
This treatment regimen is able to clear blood clots rapidly and safely, restoring blood flow in the veins of the lower leg, and the results are durable, said lead author Richard Chang, M.D., chief of the interventional radiology section of the Department of Radiology, Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Md.
DVT is a common and serious health problem in which a blood clot, or thrombus, form in the deep veins, particularly in the lower leg or thigh. Complications occur when the clot breaks off and travels to the lungs, resulting in pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal condition.
Most patients with DVT are treated solely with anticoagulation therapy (blood thinners) and compression stockings. However, studies have shown that one-third of these patients will suffer from post-thrombotic syndrome, characterized by pain, swelling, or in severe cases by changes in skin color or skin ulceration. Another third are likely to have another clot or pulmonary embolism within five years of their initial DVT.
Treatments with thrombolytic (clot-dissolving) therapy could potentially protect against these occurrences, but can pose a bleeding risk. Therefore, Dr. Chang and colleagues sought to develop a safe, effective and affordable thrombolytic treatment regimen for DVT.
Twenty patients with acute DVT were treated with direct intraclot lacing of the thrombus with a clot-dissolving agent called alteplase and full systemic anticoagulation. Alteplase binds to the clot, so the procedure does not require continuous infusion of the drug, as do some thr
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Radiological Society of North America