Thrombectomy is an emergency procedure used to remove blood clots and increase circulation. Blood clots are a serious condition that can be lethal. Blood clots are so serious because they block the flow of blood in the blood vessels. When a blood clot is blocking the move of blood, surgery will be done right away to remove it. Thrombectomy is sometimes used interchangeably with an embolectomy. The procedures are very similar but different. The primary difference is the structure being removed. An embolectomy removes emboli or embolisms. A thrombectomy removes thrombi, commonly known as blood clots. In both instances, the procedure is life- saving.
The blood is meant to clot. When you cut yourself, you start to bleed. Blood clots are the reason you do not bleed out. There are four steps in the clotting process. The first step involves platelets. As soon as there is damage to the blood vessel, platelets begin to stick to the walls of the artery. As they stick, they change shape making a plug that fills the blood leak. Platelets begin to release chemicals that bring in more platelets. As the platelets join, they form clots that continue to grow. The platelets become tough. The third step requires the production of other proteins which stops the clotting. If the clotting were to continue, it would block the artery wall. The last step is to break down the clot. Once the skin heals and the cut heals, the clot dissolves and those platelets return through circulation.
What Causes Clots
Now that you understand how clots form it is important to understand why they form. Several factors cause blood clots. The first factor is substances in the skin or arteries that comes in contact with the blood. These substances trigger the clotting factor in the blood. Cholesterol plaques may also cause clots. When those plaques break off, they trigger clotting. Abnormal blood flow is another reason for clotting. When blood does not flow regularly, the platelets of the blood begin to stick together.
The Danger of Clotting
An embolism is similar to a blood clot. An embolism is when a clot is dislodged and travels through the circulatory system. A traveling clot is called an embolus. Traveling clots are dangerous because they can reach the heart and the lungs. They can even travel and block the kidneys. Once they reach that point, they are life-threatening. A stationary clot is called a thrombus. Stationary clots may not seem harmful, but they too can become dislodged and travel. A stationary clot also disrupts blood flow. Sometimes clots grow and block the arteries completely.
There are two ways a thrombectomy is carried out. The procedures are either catheter-based or done through open surgery. Catheter-based procedures are done two different ways. The first method is balloon embolectomy. A catheter with an inflatable balloon is inserted into the vein or artery where the clot is formed. The catheter is placed in a position past the location of the clot. The doctor then inflates the balloon of the catheter. Once the balloon is inflated, it is pulled out of the vein. Once the catheter is pulled out, the clot comes out along with it. An aspiration embolectomy uses suction to remove the clot. A catheter still has to be used. Once the catheter is in the place of the clot, the suction begins, and the clot is removed. Open surgery does not use catheters at all. A surgeon makes a large incision in the area of the clot. You have to go under general anesthesia for the procedure. Local anesthesia will not work. An incision is made to the blood vessel. Open surgery is not as common as procedures with a catheter. Open surgery is done in serious cases that require immediate care.
Symptoms of Blood Clots
The best way to prevent life-threatening blood clots is knowing the symptoms of clotting. Pulmonary embolisms are blood clots in the lung. You will begin to have chest pain and shortness of breath. Your pulse increases and you feel dizzy and faint. Most people start to cough up blood. Other clots may damage veins in other parts of the body. The legs may swell and become very painful. You can have trouble walking. The skin also becomes discolored and susceptible to sores. Blood clots in the kidneys hinder blood flow and may cause kidney disease. There will be changes in your urine color, and you may also have a lot of back pain. Knowing the symptoms can allow you the opportunity to get to a hospital before it is too late.
Thrombectomies are a life-saving procedure. When you have blood clots throughout your system, you are in danger of life-threatening problems. One clot can kill you. There are many symptoms of blood clots. Sometimes people ignore these symptoms; that is the worst thing you can do. Getting treatment right away increases your chances of living. Embolectomies are just as effective. If you have blood clotting problems, make sure to talk with your physician. Taking anti-clotting medication can save your life and prevent serious clots. You may have to be on medication for the rest of your life, but it is better than dealing with life-threatening blood clots.
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