March 30, 2011
Reducing Disability from Blood Clots
(Ivanhoe Newswire) "“ Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is more than just a one-time complication from taking a long car ride. The Society of Interventional Radiology want people to know that risk factors for this very serious condition, which can lead to post-thrombotic syndrome, pulmonary embolism, permanent damage to the leg, and even death.
"Individuals and their doctors need to be aware that in the United States alone about 600,000 people are hospitalized with deep vein thrombosis each year and more than 100,000 people die of resulting pulmonary embolism," Suresh Vedantham, M.D., FSIR, an interventional radiologist and professor of radiology and surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., was quoted as saying.
"It is also important for people to know that under-recognized and extremely serious complications, such as post-thrombotic syndrome (or PTS), often occur even when DVT is treated with blood-thinning drugs (or anticoagulation)," said Vedantham.
"Blood-thinning drugs are an important part of the treatment; however, contrary to popular belief, they do not actively dissolve the clot; they just prevent new clots from forming. Unfortunately, the clotted vein often suffers permanent damage and a loss of function, which results in long-term disability for the individual," explained Vedantham.
"This is a disease that needs to be thought of as a chronic condition," Vedantham said. "And by undertaking pivotal research and working with other physicians to increase awareness, interventional radiologists appear likely to transform the treatment of deep vein thrombosis and its two main complications "“ pulmonary embolism and post-thrombotic syndrome or PTS."
"Studies show that people who have an episode of DVT are at significant risk for developing more blood-clotting episodes and post-thrombotic syndrome, which causes chronic leg pain, swelling, fatigue, difficulty walking, and major interference with physical activity and a person's ability to work productively," said Vedantham. Post-thrombotic syndrome occurs because the clot remains in the leg.
Additionally, a new study from Washington University in St. Louis found that DVT patients with already established post-thrombotic syndrome that is causing severe long-term leg pain, swelling or skin ulceration can be successfully treated with image-guided treatments that re-open the blocked veins and eliminate backward flow in the veins (known as reflux) that results from valve damage.
According to Vedantham, the study's lead investigator, "Significant symptom improvement was observed in 80 percent of patients who were treated with a combination of stents (tiny mesh tubes that re-open blocked veins) and endovenous laser ablation (in which a laser catheter is used to heat the inside of refluxing veins and seal them closed)."
"Because established post-thrombotic syndrome has had no consistently effective treatments, affected patients are generally told that they have to just live with their symptoms, which are often very severe or even disabling," said Vedantham. "Previous and ongoing research provides hope that a strategy of image-guided treatment may alleviate their symptoms, restore their leg function and improve their overall quality of life."
SOURCE: Society of Interventional Radiology, March 28, 2011