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Stanford study recommends change in treating pulmonary embolisms
Date:10/27/2009

STANFORD, Calif. William Kuo, MD, was the on-call interventional radiologist one Friday night three years ago when he received a call from the intensive care unit at Stanford Hospital & Clinics. He was asked to attend to a 62-year-old woman who had collapsed at home and was rushed to the emergency room with massive blood clots in her lungs.

"I get very emotional when I think about what happened," said Kuo, assistant professor of radiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. "I could immediately see the patient was not doing well. She was dying, and the ICU team had notified the family that she was going to die very soon."

What happened that night would set Kuo on a three-year mission to design and implement studies to reveal the safety and effectiveness of a new treatment called catheter-directed therapy or catheter-directed thrombolysis for massive blood clots in the lungs.

The results of the Stanford study, a meta-analysis of scientific data from around the world, showed that when this therapy was used to treat dangerous blood clots, it saves lives. In fact, the data indicated that the catheter procedure was life-saving in 86.5 percent of the cases studied, prompting Kuo and his co-authors to call for making the procedure the first-line treatment for pulmonary embolism. The study will be published Oct. 30 in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology.

"I remember that night so vividly," Kuo said of the events that led to his research. "The patient was by far the sickest I had ever seen on my angiography table. She couldn't breathe on her own. She was barely alive. There was no time to waste."

As in most cases of pulmonary embolism, blood clots had first formed in the patient's legs, then traveled to her lungs, interfering with oxygenation and the heart's ability to pump blood into the lungs. Because of the massive blood clots, she was quickly suffocating to death. The ICU staff had al
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Contact: Tracie White
tracie.white@stanford.edu
650-723-7628
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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