UCSD researchers announce debut of vacuum blood clot removal device

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – UC San Diego researchers Wednesday announced the local debut of a vacuum device that removes blood clots from major cardiac blood vessels without open-heart surgery.

The Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center at UCSD is the first San Diego County facility to use the AngioVac system developed by AngioDynamics, the school said. Six patients have undergone the procedure so far, which can be done in as little as an hour with patients typically able to leave the hospital the next day.

AngioVac is a catheter-based device in which thin tubes are inserted into two major veins in the body through the neck or groin. Under X-ray guidance, the flexible tubes are advanced to the veins, right-sided heart chambers or lung arteries. Each is equipped with an expandable balloon-shaped funnel tip that vacuums material such as a blood clot out of the body.

Dr. Mitul Patel, interventional cardiologist at UC San Diego Health System, noted that in some cases, medications can be used to dissolve blood clots, “but this treatment option does not work for all patients, especially those who are in a life-threatening situation. This new device allows our team to safely extract material, preventing the patient from having to undergo invasive, high-risk surgery.”

Open-heart surgery takes much longer to perform and often requires the surgeon to divide the breastbone lengthwise down the middle and spread the halves apart to access the heart. After the heart is repaired, surgeons use wires to hold the breastbone and ribs in place as they heal.

“Removing a blood clot through open-heart surgery results in longer hospitalization, recovery and rehabilitation times compared to the minimally invasive approach provided by this new device,” said Dr. Victor Pretorius, cardiothoracic surgeon at UC San Diego Health System.

The device does not eliminate the need for a surgery called pulmonary thromboendarterectomy, or PTE, to remove chronic blood clots in the lung arteries, the school said. The new procedure is performed by a team composed of anesthesiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons and interventional cardiologists.

Nearly 100,000 Americans die each year when a clot breaks away from a blood vessel wall and lodges in the lungs or heart. Several factors can cause a blood clot, including certain medications (oral contraceptives and hormone therapy drugs), deep vein thrombosis, family history, heart arrhythmias, obesity, surgery, prolonged sitting or bed rest, and smoking.

Categories: KUSI