Posts Tagged ‘catheter’

March is DVT Awareness Month

DVT logoDid you know that March is Deep Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month? This campaign is aimed at raising awareness among consumers, healthcare professionals, and policy-makers about DVT and pulmonary embolus (PE) blood clots on national, as well as local levels. For those of you who don’t know, DVT is a serious medical condition that results from a blood clot in the vein. These kinds of blood clots are normally found in the lower leg, but they can also occur in the arm and shoulder veins as well. The biggest risk of DVT is that a piece of the clot could break free and directly enter the blood stream. Since the blood in your veins travels straight to your lungs in order to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen, the clot (now called embolus) will cause the vein to enlarge until it reaches your lungs, where the passageway narrows. PE can result when the blood clot blocks the vein and sufficiently stops further blood flow through the lung.

DVT mainly affects the larger veins in the lower extremities (like the lower leg, thigh, or calf). Normally, they are only on one side of your body. Symptoms include sudden loss of breath and dizziness. The blood clot can also cause noticeable redness and warmth on your skin, leg pain, and swelling.

According to the American Heart Association, DVT occurs in about 2 million Americans every year. Since they can be so immediately fatal, pulmonary embolus clots are responsible for an estimated 300,000 deaths in the U.S. per year, which is more than breast cancer and AIDS combined. With such frightening statistics, it is important to learn and spread the word about DVT and PE.

Although this condition can be prevented and treated with anticoagulant medications, our staff specializes in catheter-directed thrombolysis (CDT), which is a minimally invasive treatment that dissolves these troublesome blood clots directly in the blood vessel. By this procedure, x-ray imaging allows the physician to insert a specialized catheter into an affected vein in order to guide it to the blockage site. Once contact is made, the blood clot can then be dissolved by delivering either medication or a mechanical device to the affected area in order to break up the clot.

In addition to this process, we can also easily diagnose DVT by performing a duplex ultrasonography exam, which is a non-invasive procedure that allows us to visualize the flow of blood within an artery using color-doppler imaging.


What Is a Catheter Embolization?

iStock_000006042109Large-revAt Peninsula Radiology Associates, we believe patient education is an important facet of our services. We know that many of our patients like to familiarize themselves with procedures before we meet them. One of the procedures frequently performed is called catheter embolization.

What Is a Catheter Embolization?

Embolization, also known as catheter embolization, is a radiologic procedure used to introduce medications or synthetic embolic agents into a blood vessel to occlude — or block — blood flow. This procedure is often indicated to:

  • Stop abnormal bleeding, particularly gastrointestinal or pelvic bleeding.
  • Eliminate abnormal connections between arteries and veins, including AVMs (arteriovenous malformations) and AVFs (arteriovenous fistulas).
  • Cut blood supply to a tumor, including benign (non-cancerous) uterine fibroids in women and cancerous tumors in both men and women. Following embolization, a malignant tumor may shrink or grow more slowly, making chemotherapy and/or surgery more effective patient options.
  • Treat aneurysms, which are bulges or sacs formed in weak artery walls.
  • Treat varicoceles — enlarged veins — in the scrotum, which may contribute to infertility.

Embolization is a highly effective procedure, which can be performed on an outpatient basis. It helps you avoid more invasive surgical treatments or interventions for these and other common conditions when used alone. Catheter embolization may also be combined with other treatments such as surgery or radiation.

What To Expect During the Catheter Embolization Procedure?

During catheter embolization, a physician called an interventional radiologist will use fluoroscopy — an imaging process that is similar to X-rays, but provides live, real-time moving images of your body — to carefully guide a catheter to the area within your body requiring treatment. A catheter is a long, thin plastic tube measuring about one-eighth of an inch in diameter that can be threaded safely through your arterial system.

Once your catheter has been placed, your physician injects a contrast material with iodine through it so that X-rays can be taken to indicate the precise site of your bleeding or abnormality. Then your interventional radiologist inserts the appropriate embolic agent through the catheter. The precise agent placed depends on the condition for which you are being treated. Common embolic agents include:

  • Acrylic polymer spheres, which are used to permanently block small blood vessels.
  • Small metallic coils, which are frequently used to permanently stop abnormal bleeding.
  • Liquid sclerosing agents, which are chemicals designed to cause scarring in a blood vessel that permanently seals the vessel.

Post Procedure Recommendations

You are normally sedated, using either a moderate or general anesthetic, and fitted with an IV (intravenous) drip and monitors for your vital signs at the start of the procedure.

Since arteries have no sensation, you should not experience any discomfort from the catheter once it has been inserted. You may experience a warm feeling from the contrast dye or other sensations when your embolic agent is administered, depending on your level of sedation. X-rays are taken to verify the success of the procedure.

Bed rest is recommended for at least six to eight hours following your procedure. You may experience some side effects after catheter embolization. Pain is a common one and is controlled by either oral medication or medication administered through your IV.

To schedule an appointment at Peninsula Radiology Associates, please call (757) 989-8830. We are proud to be affiliated with the Riverside Hospital system and have seven locations throughout Hamptons Roads to serve you. Please contact us with any questions about catheter embolization or the many other procedures and services our board-certified radiologists and experienced team expertly and compassionately provide.