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Blood Clot Removal

Blood clots can be removed with a procedure called thrombectomy.

Thrombectomy is a technique that removes a blood clot from a blood vessel. Having a blood clot can be a serious condition, as it may block blood flow to critical tissues and organs in your body. At Tampa General Hospital, the cardiovascular specialists in our Heart & Vascular Institute perform several types of thrombectomies for our patients, including emergency procedures that directly remove a clot using open surgery.

Conditions That Thrombectomy Treats

Thrombectomy treats blood clots that are caused by a variety of conditions, such as:

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Pulmonary embolism

How Thrombectomy Is Performed

TGH offers both catheter-based techniques and open surgery to remove blood clots:

  • Catheter-based thrombectomy – A surgeon makes an incision in the groin and then inserts a catheter into the incision and through the blood vessel until it reaches the blood clot. Then, a medical device (a stent retriever, balloon or suction) in the catheter traps the blood clot and brings it inside the catheter to remove it from the blood vessel completely.
  • Open surgery – In emergencies, open surgery may be utilized to remove a blood clot. In this procedure, a surgeon makes an incision directly into the blood vessel where the blood clot is located, removes the blood clot and then repairs the blood vessel.

What to Expect From Thrombectomy

While the cardiovascular surgeons at TGH emphasize patient comfort and safety every step of the way, there are a handful of risks associated with thrombectomy, such as:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infection
  • An allergic reaction to anesthesia
  • Blood vessel damage
  • The blood clot returning

Effectiveness of Thrombectomy

Sometimes, thrombectomy is combined with thrombolytic therapy, a technique that dissolves blood clots. Thrombolysis can be used before a thrombectomy procedure to break down the blood clot so that it’s easier to grab.

What’s more, thrombectomy has been shown to be a highly effective treatment for patients experiencing acute stroke. When performed within 24 hours of the stroke, patients have a much lower risk of disability. While thrombectomy has long been a stroke treatment, patients could only receive the procedure within six hours of the onset of symptoms. The window of time is now much wider, allowing more lives to be saved.