Earlier this year, Inspira Medical Center Vineland introduced a new minimally invasive procedure to remove blood clots on an urgent basis: the catheter-directed thrombectomy. The effort to bring this lifesaving technology to the South Jersey community was spearheaded by interventional cardiologist Adam Levine, D.O., and the first catheter-directed thrombectomy procedure was performed this summer by interventional cardiologist Zahi Rafeq, M.D., in the cath lab at Inspira Medical Center Vineland.
“This procedure decreases the amount of clot in the pulmonary artery to reduce long-term effects, chronic pulmonary hypertension and right-sided heart failure,” says Dr. Levine. “The data also shows that this procedure helps in the short term, improving functional capacity in patients by getting people out of shock or hypoxia quickly without the side effect of intracranial bleeding from intravenous thrombolytic therapy.”
A catheter-directed thrombectomy isn’t right for every case. Identifying candidates for this procedure requires a collaboration between the critical care treatment team, the treating cardiologist and the interventional cardiology team. Patients must be stable enough to be moved to the cath lab, but the procedure should be used on an urgent basis—it’s not an elective surgery that can be scheduled in advance.
“We’ve seen almost immediate improvement in patients who have received this treatment,” says Dr. Rafeq. “Many patients are discharged within a day or two, which not only improves the patient experience but also allows for an efficient flow of patients through the hospital, ensuring timely and appropriate levels of care for all patients.” In addition, this procedure can help prevent long-term sequelae of conditions like pulmonary hypertension.
As providers, it’s important to embrace new technology like catheter-directed procedures to safely and effectively prevent potential long-term comorbidities. “The standard therapy for pulmonary embolisms used to be intravenous thrombolytic therapy, which had potentially systemic side effects and a high risk for intracranial bleeding. And patients would stay in the ICU for multiple days,” says Dr. Levine. “Now, we can treat certain patients safely, quickly and more effectively without having to transfer them to another hospital for care.”
The cardiology team is embracing Inspira’s mission of improving access to care in the South Jersey community with procedures like this one. “Without the help of Dr. Levine and the other interventionalists, we would not have seen any of this come to life,” says Dr. Rafeq.
To learn more about this and other exciting procedures being done in the cath lab, contact Andrew Zinn, M.D., interventional cardiologist and director of the cath lab at Inspira Medical Center Vineland, at Andrew.Zinn@ihn.org.