Mechanical Thrombectomy: Blood Clot Extraction

Blood clots block blood vessels. The situation can be life-threatening. Fast, effective treatment is important. In an emergency, when medication isn’t enough, a mechanical thrombectomy can treat:

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Pulmonary embolism (PE)
  • Stroke
  • Lack of blood flow to the gut (acute mesenteric ischemia) or legs (acute lower extremity ischemia)

During this surgery, an interventional radiologist or another vascular specialist removes blood clots by sliding devices through a small incision into a normal vessel below the skin. Medical imaging equipment guides the device to the vessel with a blood clot. This advanced procedure causes less pain than traditional types of blood clot removal surgery.

Mechanical Thrombectomy: What to Expect

Mechanical thrombectomy helps restore blood flow when a blood clot blocks a vessel. The faster you get treatment, the better the outcome. The goal is to have the procedure within 6 hours of showing symptoms.

The procedure starts with a small cut at the top of your leg or at the base of your neck. This gives access to an artery or vein for the instruments.

Using a small plastic tube called a catheter, we locate the clot and insert a tiny net-like device that is advanced into the blood clot. The device grabs the clot and we pull it out through the small incision.

Local or general anesthesia can help manage your pain. The procedure site may be sore for a few days, but medicine can help. The length of your hospital stay and recovery time depends on your overall health.

Call Your Provider

After the procedure, contact your provider if you’re not getting better or experience the following problems:

  • Bleeding
  • Problems speaking clearly
  • Weakness or numbness on one side of the body
  • Light-headedness, falling, loss of balance
  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest or back pain
  • Pain along the left arm, neck, or jaw
  • Sweating and clammy skin
  • Swelling or pain in the leg where the catheter was introduced

If you think this is an emergency, call 911 right away.

Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.