Treatments for Pulmonary Embolism

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Baptist Health Madisonville: Treatments for Pulmonary Embolism

Cardiologist Steven Heatherly, MD, explains the dangers of pulmonary embolism and the advanced treatment options used to remove a clot, including surgical embolectomy and a catheter-based procedure.

Treatments for Pulmonary Embolism HealthTalks Transcript

Steven Heatherly, MD
Pulmonary embolism is when a clot forms in a patient’s body. It’s typically somewhere else, like the lower extremities, and then it travels and lodges in the artery to the lung. It can actually cause strain on the right side of the heart. It can cause the right side of the heart to fail, and that can be either temporary or permanent. It also can cause high blood pressure in the lung artery, a disease that we call pulmonary hypertension.

There are really three options for pulmonary embolism. The first, which all patients need, is blood thinners, what we call anticoagulant therapy. The second is a procedure that we offer here, which is a catheter-based technique. That’s where we actually take a catheter through a small nick in the arm or the neck, enter the artery to the lung, and actually extract some of the clot. The last option is an open technique where the chest is opened, and the clot is removed. That’s called a surgical embolectomy, and that is also offered in our facility. After the procedure, what we commonly see is the pressure in the lung artery is normal. They are able to come off of any oxygen that they might need and usually within a period of a few months they are back to the lifestyle that they had before they had their clot.

I think one of the benefits to our hospital is that we offer a lot of advanced techniques that are usually only offered at larger academic medical centers. I really enjoy working at a place where we can offer that to patients and not actually have to transfer them to other hospitals.