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Procedures for Deep Vein Thrombosis

You have been diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Depending on your health and the size and location of the blood clot, your doctor may recommend that you have one or more procedures. These may be needed to dissolve a large clot or to prevent a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism occurs when a piece of the clot lodges in a blood vessel in the lung. Your doctor can give you more information and answer any questions you may have.

Thrombolysis

This procedure is used to dissolve a large clot. A catheter (thin tube) is inserted into the affected vein. X-rays are taken of the vein and the clot. Then, clot-dissolving medication is delivered to the clot through the catheter. In some cases, a mechanical device is also used to break up the clot.

Angioplasty

This procedure may be used to widen the affected vein and improve blood flow. Narrowing (stenosis) of the vein can block blood flow and make it more likely for a blood clot to form. A catheter with a balloon on the end is inserted into the affected vein. X-rays are used to position the catheter. Once the catheter is in place, the balloon is inflated to widen the vein. In some cases, a stent (wire mesh device) may also be placed in the vein to help keep it open.

Inferior Vena Cava Filter

An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter is a small device used to trap an embolus in the lower body. The filter is delivered by a catheter and placed in the IVC, which is the body’s largest vein. This procedure may be done if you have a blood clot in the leg. It may also be done before surgery if you are at risk of a pulmonary embolism.

 

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