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Thrombolytic Therapy

Thrombolytic therapy is a minimally invasive treatment for deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This form of therapy requires the use of a very powerful blood thinner which is injected through a small plastic tube (catheter). This form of treatment is used in extreme cases of DVT, when blood thinners have not been effective to control the symptoms of DVT or when the DVT is extensive. Patient undergoing thrombolytic therapy have to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).

What to Expect

  • Your interventional radiologist may request an ultrasound, CT or MRV scan to get a closer look at the affected area.
  • The entire treatment process will take between 1 to 3 days to complete.
  • You will be sedated, but conscious throughout the procedure. The procedure itself is usually not painful, however, you may experience some discomfort during the process.
  • Once the interventional radiologist decides the best approach, the target area will be cleaned.
  • The site will be numbed with local anesthesia, and a small incision is made.
  • The vein will be punctured with a small needle and then, the catheter will be inserted through the small incision, and under image guidance, is placed into the affected blood vessel.
  • The clot buster, Alteplase, is infused through the catheter into the vessel, which will start breaking up the clots.
  • The incision is covered.

What to Expect after Thrombolytic Therapy

  • You will be brought back to the interventional radiology department every 24 hours, during which they will monitor any bleeding, remove any excess fluid and clots or place a stent if required to keep the vessels strong.
  • The entire process usually takes 2-3 days.
  • After thrombolytic therapy, your interventional radiologist will speak to your hematologist or surgeon about the proper dose of blood thinners to prescribe for you to take.

For More Information

For more information on thrombolytic therapy, or to schedule an appointment with an interventional radiologist, please call 847.570.2160.