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Ultrasound Helps Break Up Blood Clots In Lung

November 22, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Chest Radiology
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A new technique uses the heat and energy of ultrasound to increase the effectiveness of drugs in treating acute massive pulmonary embolism (commonly known as a blood clot in the lung).

According to a PRWeb news release, Peter Lin, MD, professor of surgery at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, reported last week on the results of a 10-year study of the technique. He was appearing at the VEITHsymposium for vascular specialists in New York.

The technique is called ultrasound-accelerated catheter-directed thrombolysis, developed by EKOS Corporation of Bothell, Washington. It builds on catheter-directed thrombolysis (CDT), in which a high concentration of clot-busting medicine is delivered directly to the clot through an infusion catheter. Ultrasound-accelerated CDT adds an ultrasound device to the catheter. The ultrasound makes the clot more porous and penetrable by the drug.

Dr. Lin described a study of 46 patients treated for acute massive pulmonary embolism. Ultrasound-accelerated CDT completely broke down the clot in all of the patients treated. CDT without ultrasound achieved complete thrombolysis in 67 percent of patients. Both the average dose of thrombolytic medication and the length of infusion time were less with ultrasound-accelerated CDT. And the ultrasound group had no hemorrhagic complications while the nonultrasound group had three such incidents.

All patients receiving ultrasound were treated with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) as the thrombolytic agent. Among the nonultrasound CDT patients, 16 received tPA and 5 received urokinase.

Somewhere around 300,000 Americans die from pulmonary embolisms each year, usually within one hour of presentation. So anything that improves treatment could be significant.

“In institutions with appropriate clinical expertise,” Dr. Lin said, “ultrasound-accelerated thrombolytic is a beneficial treatment option in patients who have acute massive PE with contraindications to systemic thrombolysis, when time to administer systemic thrombolytic agents is lacking, or when no improvement follows standard intravenous thrombolytic administration.”

Related seminar: Imaging Advances: Abdominal, Thoracic, Skeletal

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