The goal in the treatment of acute DVT is to restore blood flow. Once the clot is removed or dissolved, swelling and pain typically resolve.
At Stanford we have a variety of techniques, drugs and devices that can be used to remove the blood clot. The procedure involves placing a catheter, similar to an IV into the blocked vein. Depending on how much clot is present and how old the clot is determines which device we use.
Standard anticoagulation with coumadin, heparin or low molecular weight heparin (i.e. lovenox) prevent more clot from forming, but does not remove the existing clot from the vein. This therapy relies on the body to “dissolve” the clot. Unfortunately, this often does not occur and the vein will remain blocked forever.
At Stanford we have a variety of new devices and methods that remove the clot from the vein. Some devices allow us to administer a “clot-busting” drug directly into the clot. Other devices break up the clot into tiny pieces that are then removed using a suction catheter. Often, these techniques uncover a particular narrowing of the vein that caused the blood clot to form, and we are able to treat this by implanting a stent to open the vein. This can require a brief or over-night hospital stay.
Patients with the best outcomes are those that have had symptoms for only a short period of time, less than 14 days. The clot responds very favorably when it is “fresh”.
Unfortunately, many physicians that are not interventional radiologists are unaware or unfamiliar with these new techniques and may not act upon new clots. We recommend a consultation with our experienced Stanford faculty.