Your blood has many important jobs. It supplies essential nutrients like sugars and oxygen while also removing waste materials, such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid, from cells. Blood is also critical in regulating acidity levels and body temperature and protecting the body against infection.
And though it must flow throughout your body uninterrupted to perform these important functions, your blood must also be able to shut off quickly and clot when you get a cut or injury.
Blood clots are extremely beneficial when formed in response to an injury—they plug the injured vessel to stop the bleeding. But if blood clots don’t dissolve naturally in areas like your legs, lungs or brain, they can be very harmful to your health resulting in heart attack, stroke, and possibly even death.
Patients who suffer from blood clots are often treated with blood thinning medication or with a vascular filter that is inserted into the vena cava, the largest vein in your body, to “filter” and prevent potentially fatal clots that sometimes occur after serious injury or surgery. These treatments, which are used for non-life threatening blood clots, work by thinning the blood, which often helps patients avoid complications from clots for a short period of time.
And now Archbold Memorial Hospital’s vascular interventional radiologists Tim Daniel, MD, and Craig Yokley, MD, are also using a different method to safely treat the most life-threatening blood clots.
The physicians are utilizing Ekosonic’s Endovascular System (EKOS), a catheter-directed technology that simultaneously delivers clot busting medication and high-frequency, low-energy ultrasound to dissolve dangerous blood clots before they can cause serious harm or death. The pressure of the ultrasound waves effectively drive the medication deep into the clot, penetrating difficult to reach places, such as valves, and allowing for immediate dispersion of the medication to dissolve the clot.
The physicians are using the EKOS technology to treat dangerous life-threatening blood clots like pulmonary embolisms (dangerous blockages in pulmonary arteries in the lungs), severe deep venous thrombosis (when a blood clot forms in one or more of the deep veins in the body, usually in the legs), and arterial thrombosis in the pelvic region (blood clots that form in the deep veins in the pelvic region).
“Any EKOS procedure is an inpatient and emergency procedure,” said Dr. Yokley. “Patients are sedated through IV conscious sedation. There is no intubation or general anesthesia. We use catheters, guide wires and x-rays to place the catheter directly into the clots in the affected arteries. The ultrasound waves help drive the medication directly into the clot, and dissolve the clots.”
Dr. Yokley said typically patients don’t require general anesthesia or even stitches, and most patients are able to go home within a few days and resume normal activities after the procedure.
“The technology has really transformed the way physicians are able to treat dangerous blood clots, like pulmonary embolisms, severe DVT cases and arterial thrombosis,” said Dr. Daniel. “We’re able to dissolve the pulmonary embolism clot and decrease heart strain and the chance of disability through pulmonary artery hypertension or even death. As far as treating clots in the pelvic region, before we had access to intravascular ultrasound, it was very difficult and almost impossible to effectively treat clots in the pelvic region at all. This technology allows us to not only treat these clots, but reverse symptoms and create a long-term solution for patients. For patients suffering from severe DVT, the EKOS technology helps dissolve the clots that can cause pain when walking and foot ulcers in diabetics, and also helps patients avoid amputation.”
“Archbold is the only facility in the area offering the EKOS clot busting procedures,” said Dr. Daniel. “We’ve had a high success rate over the past year since we implemented the new technology. We are saving lives with this technology, and offering treatment for patients that otherwise wouldn’t have had a long-term treatment option for blood clots.”
Craig Yokley, MD, Vascular Interventional Radiologist at Archbold Memorial Hospital.
Tim Daniel, MD, Vasuclar Interventional Radiologist at Archbold Memorial Hospital.