Gerry Cunha had a blood clot two and a half feet long. That's as long as a toddler!
"I just couldn't imagine two and a half feet of clotting," said Cunha.
It was deep vein thrombosis or DVT.
"It's a clot that forms in the deep veins of the leg," explained Warren Swee, M.D, MPH, a vascular and interventional radiologist at South Florida Vascular Associates in Coconut Creek, Florida.
The clot went from below his knee to his lower abdomen. The traveling salesman was in trouble.
"I could hardly walk," Cunha said. "I was in such horrible pain."
There was a serious chance of pulmonary embolism. The clot could break off, enter his lungs and kill him. In a letter he told his wife goodbye, but she didn't have to read it thanks to the EKOS system. It goes into the blockage and delivers clot-busting medication like other catheter devices, but the EKOS adds ultrasound. Swee says the vibration better penetrates the clot, making it easier to dissolve.
"It cuts down the time and the amount of clot busting medication we need," Swee said.
He tells us it requires half the time and half the medication of similar procedures, making it safer for patients like Gerry who can't handle high doses of clot-busting drugs.
"Patients that may not have been a candidate before may be a candidate now," Swee said.
Today Cunha's leg is back to normal and he's back on the road.
"I can drive about 300 to 400 miles a week," he said.
Because of the size of Cunha's clot, it took Swee two days to completely dissolve it.
While on long road trips, Cunha wears compression socks, does exercises like wiggling his toes and gets out for short walks to help prevent another clot from forming. To prevent them while on long flights, walk around the plane every hour or two, change positions in your seat, drink lots of fluids and try not to cross your legs.
Dr. Warren Swee says the EKOS System has revolutionized the way he treats DVT. The device, which utilizes ultrasound technology, takes less time and uses less clot-busting medication to dissolve potentially dangerous clots. Doctor Swee tells Ivanhoe because of the reduced time and need for medication, more people are eligible for the EKOS procedure versus other DVT catheter procedures.
HOW THE EKOS SYSTEM WORKS:
- Penetrates clots, in difficult-to-reach places, such as behind valves
- Exposes clot to greater drug uptake
- Captures drug within clot
- Uses 50-70% less lytic drug
- No thrombus fracture or breakage, reducing the risk of distal embolism
- No hemolysis. Does not fracture red blood cells, so there is no adenosine and no additional compromise to renal function
- No damage to valves or the vascular wall
- Higher level of vessel patency, removes the thrombus more completely, possibly reducing the risk of Post-Thrombotic Syndrome (PTS)
- Minimizes time in the vascular lab, reducing radiation exposure (Source: www.ekoscorp.com)