Relieving the life-threatening risks of DVTs

Archive, January, Month

A minimally invasive procedure can remove deep vein thrombosis clots in a single session.

Two patients — one a woman in her 60s, the other a man in his early 30s.

Patients at different points in their lives — living with different sets of risk factors for different conditions — met the same doctor with the same complaints and were ultimately diagnosed with the same ailment. And they were treated with the same potentially lifesaving procedure.

“DVTs are blood clots that can affect anyone,” said Dr. Jay Mohan, an interventional cardiologist at McLaren Macomb. “While they’re more likely to target a certain demographic, circumstances can exist in many seemingly healthy people that allow these clots to develop and grow, becoming more dangerous as time passes.”

After a traumatic injury, the 30-year-old underwent a spine operation and, while recovering, developed leg pain and swelling.

The 60-year-old, she arrived at the McLaren Macomb emergency department after the persistent pain in her leg was no longer bearable.

Physicians determined both were suffering the effects of DVTs, and both were referred to Dr. Mohan and the Mat Gaberty Heart Center at McLaren Macomb.


DVTs, or deep vein thrombosis, are blood clots — clinically referred to as “thrombus” —that form within the deep venous system of the body, most often the legs.

Not all patients with DVTs experience symptoms, but those who do can have significant swelling or cramp-like discomfort in the affected leg, severely disrupting the leg’s circulation and worsening over time, causing “post-thrombotic syndrome.”

However, regardless of whether a patient experiences symptoms or not, the presence of a DVT greatly increases the risk that a piece will break off of the large clot and travel throughout the blood vessel toward the heart and lung, developing into a pulmonary embolism.

“DVTs themselves can be quite painful and, if not treated correctly, can really cause a decline in a patient’s quality of life,” Dr. Mohan said, “but where they’re really troublesome are their risk for long-term complications.”

The procedure

Despite their different circumstances and the points they’re at in life, both patients were treated — very successfully — with the same procedure.

Traditional treatments for DVTs required the clot-busting medication tPA, which leads to a multinight stay in the ICU and potential for increased bleeding for the patient, and even then, it’s not guaranteed that the risk is entirely alleviated.

Now, experts at McLaren Macomb offer a minimally invasive procedure designed to remove large clots from large veins during a single session — the ClotTriever Thrombectomy System.

Ultrasound imaging guides the physician to the clot’s location. A guide wire is then inserted into the vascular system and tunneled to the clot before a sheath and catheter are deployed to effectively and efficiently remove it. Multiple passes can be made during the procedure to capture (and remove) multiple clots, restoring proper blood flow.

For the patients, this means their symptoms immediately improve, and they avoid the ICU and an extended hospital stay.

Following five passes with the ClotTriever, the 60-year-old had several significant clots removed from her legs. As for the 30-year-old, he too had many sizable clots removed from his legs, after eight passes with the device.

“Traditional treatment options can work over a period of time, but when we have a minimally invasive procedure that allows us to capture and remove clots during a single session,” Dr. Mohan said, “it’s advantageous for everyone. We have the ability to address the biggest downfall of previous venous disease treatments and post-thrombotic syndrome.

“Being able to treat patients in the hospital and seeing the resolution of their pain and swelling so quickly has been so rewarding,” he added.

This proved true for both patients.

Both were back home within 24 hours of their procedures, with their previously painful symptoms relieved, circulation restored and risk for an embolism or other complication nearly nonexistent.