A small gripping device that plucks blood clots from veins can benefit thousands

Thousands of patients with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) will benefit from a life-saving procedure with a new blood clot device developed by NHS specialists.

The treatment involves inserting a stent, a small, spherical wire cage into a blocked vein. Once in position, the collapsible cage is turned off and & # 39; captures & # 39; the clot. When the device is pulled out, the clot is supplied.

A 55-year-old woman from London is the first patient in the world to benefit from the procedure, called a Vetex thrombectomy catheter, and specialists hope it will be available throughout the NHS.

A DVT is a blood clot that occurs in the veins of the lower limbs.

They are most common during a hospital after surgery, during long-haul flights, and during and in the six months following pregnancy, mainly due to inactivity. The risk is increased by smoking, overweight, dehydration – leaving the blood thick and & # 39; sticky & # 39; is – and by certain medications.

Leg swelling, pain or tenderness when standing or walking and hot, red or discolored skin on the leg are all symptoms.

But in half the cases there are no signs of DVT until part of the clot breaks down and travels through the blood circulation to the heart and lungs, where it can cause a potentially fatal blockage called pulmonary embolism (PE).

Other symptoms of PE include unexplained shortness of breath, pain in breathing, coughing up blood, and a rapid heartbeat – and it is considered a medical emergency. Without prompt treatment, the body can become famished by oxygen.

DVT affects approximately 620,000 people in the UK each year, according to the Thrombosis UK charity, and 25,000 admitted to hospital die every year from preventable blood clots.

In November, assistant-assistant-assistant Jackie Field, a mother of two from Eltham in Southeast London, became the pioneer of the procedure. She recovered at home after surgery to repair an internal tear in her abdomen two weeks earlier when her right leg & # 39; strange & # 39; began to feel.

Jackie said: & # 39; It looked good, but & # 39; at night it really started to hurt. Then I had pain in the shooting at the back of my leg. I must have screamed before I fainted because my son found me on the floor and called an ambulance. & # 39;

She was transferred to St Thomas & Hospital, where she was diagnosed with DVT.

Because she had just undergone surgery and had a higher risk of internal bleeding, doctors were unable to offer the usual treatment for lump-forming medication. Instead, she was assessed as an ideal case for the Vetex Thrombectomy catheter, which was about to be tried in the hospital.

The operation was performed by Stephen Black, a vascular surgeon consultant at Guy & St Thomas & # 39; NHS Foundation Trust, and Narayanan Thulasidasan, an interventionist radiologist.

Black said: & # 39; For patients like Jackie who cannot be treated with conventional techniques, it is essential to have a different treatment option.

Leg swelling, pain or sensitivity when standing or walking and hot, red or discolored skin on the legs are all symptoms (file image of a DVT patient)

Leg swelling, pain or sensitivity when standing or walking and hot, red or discolored skin on the legs are all symptoms (file image of a DVT patient)

Leg swelling, pain or sensitivity when standing or walking and hot, red or discolored skin on the legs are all symptoms (file image of a DVT patient)

& # 39; This new procedure is similar to a thrombectomy, a procedure that is used to remove a blood clot from the blood vessels in the brain after a stroke. The device works the same way, using a stent to catch and then remove the clot, but it is larger – because veins in the legs are much larger than arteries in the brain, and therefore the clots are much larger. & # 39;

Often blood clots are considered spherical. But they can form long tubes that can extend a little further. The longer the clot, the greater the chance that it will fall apart and cause a pulmonary embolism.

A filter device can be inserted into the vena cava, the vein that returns oxygen-poor blood from the body to the heart. The device can accumulate blood clots before they cause a PE. However, it does not prevent the cause of the problem.

The new treatment takes one and a half hours under local anesthesia and anesthesia. First, an incision of approximately 3 mm is made behind the knee. A catheter, or thin flexible tube, is inserted there into the main vein – known as the femoral vein – which serves the entire leg and is directed to the affected area.

The stent is passed through the center of the clot and, when it is on the other side, expanded to surround the clot. When the stent is withdrawn, the clot catches and a suction device removes it all without breaking any parts.

The incision is closed with stitches and patients must be able to go home the same day.

Jackie remembers: I didn't feel any pain, but it was uncomfortable during the procedure. Mr. Black kept talking to me throughout the year.

& # 39; Then I wore compression stockings for about six weeks and will go back for regular scans for another year to make sure that the blood flows properly. I also take blood-thinning medicines to prevent further clots from developing.

& # 39; I feel like the first in the world to have had this operation – especially since I know that with DVT & # 39; s it can be much worse. & # 39;

The Vetex test is running on Guy & # 39; s and St. Thomas and eight patients have had the procedure so far.

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