Pulmonary Embolisms: Diagnosis & Treatments

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Baptist Health Louisville:Pulmonary Embolisms Diagnosis & Treatments

Cardiologists Christopher A. Semder, MD, and Thomas M. Tu, MD, explain how doctors use advanced therapies to view and remove, or break up, blood clots.

Pulmonary Embolisms Diagnosis & Treatments Health Talks Transcript

Christopher A. Semder, MD, Cardiovascular Diseases
A pulmonary embolism is a clot in the pulmonary arteries, and an embolism is something that has broken loose from another area, another vein, and then traveled through the heart into the pulmonary arteries.

Thomas M. Tu, MD, Cardiovascular Diseases
There are many ways to diagnose pulmonary embolism. All of them have some good and some bad. If the suspicion is high enough, the doctor might order a CAT scan. We call it a CT scan pulmonary embolism protocol. This allows us to actually see the clots in the lung, and that’s the main way we diagnose this. There are clots that we call massive pulmonary emboli. These are life-threatening situations, and seconds count in terms of making decisions to treat these patients. At Baptist, we have access to very advanced therapies for treating pulmonary embolism. We have pioneering research in terms of catheter-based treatment for pulmonary embolism in which we can thread catheters from the leg into the lung and either remove the clot using suction, or using a clot-dissolving agent and drip it into the clot to help it break up and dissolve.

Dr. Semder
Most of the time, patients feel better on the table. We’ve removed the so-called “foot off the hose.” The right heart tends to improve very quickly. Patients are typically out of the hospital within 48 hours, and some of those patients even leave off oxygen therapy, and that’s unheard of with this large thrombus burden.