Tanner News

A New Treatment for Life-Threatening Pulmonary Embolism Is Available at Tanner

It may just look like a simple tube, its diameter no wider than a Sharpie. But it’s already making an immediate difference for people in west Georgia with large, life-threatening clots in their lungs, also known as pulmonary embolism.

Recently, Tanner Health System interventional cardiologists did their first pulmonary embolism thrombectomy using the Inari FlowTriever, successfully bringing this technology to Carroll County.

“Thrombectomy has been done for years to break up clots,” said interventional cardiologist Christopher Arant, MD. “What we can now offer to patients is a more effective method that safely pulls out entire large clots. Patients don’t need clot-busting drugs or a long hospital stay. They get relief immediately.”

Other clot-busting devices may push through clots to break them up, then use thrombolytic drugs to dissolve small pieces. FlowTriever is the first device of this size and effectiveness to be approved to pull out, or aspirate, clots in large vessels such as the lung’s pulmonary arteries, using vacuum power. There’s no need for thrombolytic drugs to dissolve clots or an ICU stay for patients. The procedure usually takes an hour, and patients often go home the next day.

Pulmonary embolism, or PE, can happen when a clot forms in a blood vessel in another part of the body, often the leg, then travels to the lungs. Blood flow makes the clot grow bigger and spread, often to multiple vessels. Patients struggle to breathe and feel sudden chest pain. The blockage increases pressure and can also restrict blood flow to the heart, which is life-threatening.

But now, patients with pulmonary embolism who present to Tanner’s ER can be treated the same or next day with PE thrombectomy.

“When a patient comes to you who is struggling to breathe and you can see that all of their stats are abnormal and that their heart is in crisis, it’s an incredible feeling when you are able to help them,” says interventional cardiologist Shazib Khawaja, MD. “At Tanner Health System, we now have a technology that stabilizes these patients right before our eyes so they can go home to their families and back to their normal lives.”

If you are experiencing sudden chest pain and/or shortness of breath, call 911. To learn more about Tanner’s other heart-related tests and procedures and to watch a video about the Inari FlowTriever, visit tanner.org/heart-care/what-we-offer/cardiac-tests-and-procedures.