Catheter-Directed Thrombolysis at Sky Ridge Medical Center

Catheter-directed thrombolysis is a minimally invasive treatment that dissolves abnormal blood clots in blood vessels to help improve blood flow and prevent damage to tissues and organs.

When blood does not flow smoothly through a vessel, it can begin to thicken, turning from a free-flowing liquid to a semi-solid gel, or blood clots. A blood clot (thrombus) that forms within a blood vessel may continue to grow, blocking off the blood supply to certain parts of the body and causing damage to tissues and organs. In some patients, blood clots come from one site, dislodge, travel downstream, and lodge in relatively small vessels causing a blockage, or embolization. Untreated, a vascular blockage due to thrombosis or embolization, can result in the loss of an organ or extremity, with potentially life-threatening consequences.

In a catheter-directed thrombolysis procedure, X-ray imaging is used to help guide a special medication or medical device to the site of blood clots to dissolve the blockage.

Common Uses of Catheter-Directed Thrombolysis

Catheter-directed thrombolysis is used to treat blood clots in arteries and veins resulting from any of these causes:

  • Thrombosis in the vascular bed of the diseased arteries, such as thrombosis in an arm or leg artery that has severe narrowing due to atherosclerosis.
  • Deep vein thrombosis, a condition in which a blood clot forms in a main vein that returns blood flow from the arms or legs back to the heart and lungs. This type of clot may grow big enough to completely block the vein, posing serious risk if part of it breaks off and travels to the lungs (called pulmonary embolism).
  • Slowed circulation caused by heart disease, which can allow a blood clot to form in one of the heart's chambers. A clot that breaks loose, travels through the bloodstream and lodges in either an organ or artery forming a complete blockage in blood flow at that point is called an embolism.
  • Thrombosis of the dialysis fistulas or grafts.
  • Pulmonary embolism.
  • Thrombosis of the portal vein and other mesenteric veins.