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Saint Thomas Heart

Pulmonary Embolectomy/Thrombectomy

A pulmonary thrombectomy is an emergency procedure that removes clotted blood from the pulmonary arteries. Thrombectomies can be surgical or percutaneous. Surgical thrombectomies were once popular but were abandoned because of poor long-term outcomes. Now, due to revisions in surgical techniques, these procedures are recommended in selected patients.

The terms embolectomy and thrombectomy are sometimes used interchangeably. A thrombectomy is the removal of a blood clot . A blood clot or foreign body that has moved and lodged in a blood vessel is called an embolus. An embolectomy is the removal of an embolus.

Embolectomy and thrombectomy are procedures that remove a blood clot or a foreign body from a blood vessel. Blood clots can grow or break loose and lodge in another blood vessel, and both foreign bodies and blood clots can cut off blood supply to organs and tissues. Both scenarios can cause a stroke, heart attack, gangrene, loss of limbs and other serious problems.

Types of embolectomy and thrombectomy

There are multiple types of embolectomy and thrombectomy, depending on the blood vessel needing treatment:

  • Catheter-based procedures involve passing a small tube, or catheter, through a small incision in the groin to the clot site. Then, the surgeon will use special instruments to break up or remove the clot. The procedure may also involve injecting a clot-dissolving medication through the catheter. Your surgeon may also place a mesh stent device in the blood vessel to support it and keep it open.
  • Open surgery involves making a large incision in the area of the blood clot through the blood vessel to remove it. Open surgery is not common, but may be the best choice for emergencies to save an organ and in other cases.

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