Dismiss Modal

Catheter-directed Thrombolytic Therapy

Catheter-directed thrombolytic therapy is a nonsurgical treatment for acute deep vein thrombosis (DVT) that dissolves blood clots. Typically occurring in your leg, thigh or pelvis, it can travel to other parts of the body. If a DVT travels to your lungs, it becomes a pulmonary embolism (PE). PE can cause shortness of breath, chest pain and death.

When blood thinners do not dissolve a DVT or PE, catheter-directed thrombolytic therapy is the next option for dissolving the clot.

How the Procedure is Performed

A team of vascular experts and other clinicians work together to perform catheter-directed thrombolytic therapy. After you have been given medication to relax you and the incision site is numbed, the vascular surgeon will use a catheter to insert a thin, plastic tube into your vein. Medication is injected through the tube and into the clot. If a narrowed artery is found during the process, this is treated with a stent to allow blood flow and prevent reoccurrence. If necessary, the clot is suctioned out or broken up. Once the area is properly treated, the catheter is removed and the incision site is closed. 

What to Expect After the Procedure

You will be in the hospital, possibly the ICU, for at least one day. A compression sock may be placed on your leg for maximum blood flow. Our WakeMed vascular surgeon will also place you on blood thinners for several months, and additional medication may be given immediately after the procedure for a period of hours to support dissolution of the clot.