January 15, 2021 • Courtesy of NWI.life
Written by Allison Tunstall
Methodist Hospitals recently announced it was the first Northwest Indiana hospital system to use two new devices for removing life-threatening clots. The FlowTriever for Pulmonary Embolism and the ClotTriever for Deep Vein Thrombosis systems are welcomed new treatments as cases of life-threatening clots have climbed in the past year.
“There has been a spike in the number of clots people are developing both in the lungs and the legs in the past year,” said Dr. Mihas Kodenchery, MD, a Methodist Physician Group cardiologist. “One reason has to do with the traditional causes of blood clots, which are lack of activity and other underlying conditions. But what has made the issue more prevalent in the last year has been the COVID-19 pandemic and the limitations to a lot of the physical activities that people regularly do.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear a second problem: doctors are continuing to see major clots developing in COVID-19 patients during or immediately after recovering from the virus. And as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the Region, ICU beds have become increasingly limited to patients with life-threatening clots, as more and more beds are being occupied by COVID-19 patients.
“One big issue we have been having is a decrease in the number of resources to treat people,” Kodenchery said. “There is a shortage of hospital beds, there is a decrease in available ICU beds. The technology we used to use before required us to use a clot buster—a very risky medicine to use—to loosen up the clot before taking it out. This meant the patient had to be monitored in the ICU anywhere between two and 12 hours, or overnight.”
Enter the new FlowTriever and ClotTriever systems. These new systems allow doctors to finish the procedure in one sitting. Kodenchery explained that most times, patients who have the treatment done in the morning can return that evening, though patients who receive the treatment in the evening may need to stay overnight. It’s a major improvement in recovery time while being minimally invasive at the same time.
“Patients feel almost instant relief,” he said. “The biggest advantage to these systems is that the patient won’t need an intensive care unit. Every ICU bed that we don’t have to use for getting the clot out is an ICU bed we can use for a COVID-19 patient.”
The systems target two different kinds of clots. The FlowTriever targets clots in the lungs, or pulmonary embolisms, while the ClotTriever removes clots or Deep Vein Thrombosis in the legs, arms, pelvis,
etc. They work by inserting a catheter through the vein which is threaded to the site of the clot. Using suction, the clot is pulled out of the vessel and out of the body, greatly lessening the risk of bleeding that the traditional method of clot busters would cause.
“Depending on where the clot is, patients feel an immediate relief,” Kodenchery said. “Patients who have clots in their legs or pelvis, for example, will see an immediate improvement in the swelling, tenderness, redness, and shooting pains. Normal blood flow is bidirectional; blood leaves the heart, supplies blood to the leg, and returns to the heart. When you have a blood clot, it prevents the blood from returning back.”
“Removal of the blood clot will establish blood flow in both directions and relieves the symptoms as described above,” Kodenchery continued. “Patients with clots in their lungs have chest pains, shortness of breath, and coughing because the portion of the lung with the clot cannot give them the oxygen they need.”
The FlowTriever and ClotTriver systems are only used to treat life-threatening clots. Patients will still need to take a blood thinner pill, which will be prescribed by their doctor, to dissolve small clots and prevent them from getting larger. If you have shooting pains, redness, swelling, or tenderness in your legs,
shortness of breath, cough, or chest pain, Kodenchery urges patients not to wait. It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
“Lately, we have seen a lot of people who wait to come to the hospital because they are afraid they are going to get COVID-19,” Kodenchery said. “That is a myth that can very easily lead to worse complications or even death. Methodist Hospitals and hospitals around the country are taking safety precautions very seriously; social distancing and Personal Protection Equipment like masks and face shields are mandatory. It is safer than most other places you go; it’s safer than the person you walk by on the street, at the store, at a restaurant, or a theater.”
Methodist Hospitals and Kodenchery are thrilled to bring this new technology to Methodist Hospitals’
patients, raising awareness of blood clots and their symptoms, in order for patients to receive the cutting-edge, minimally invasive care they need.
For more information about Methodist Hospitals, visit their website at https://www.methodisthospitals.org/.
To make an appointment with Dr. Kodenchery, visit https://www.methodistphysiciangroup.org/categories/item/31-mihas-kodenchery-md.