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Health Beat: DVT device breaks up dangerous clots

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 21 2014 03:43:28 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 21 2014 04:35:42 PM CST

Every year, two million people develop deep vein thrombosis — a large blood clot in the leg that can be fatal.

CHICAGO -

Every year, two million people develop deep vein thrombosis — a large blood clot in the leg that can be fatal. 

In the past, blood thinners were the only option, but the medication doesn't help dissolve the clot itself. Now, a new device is changing that and helping prevent complications.

Constant road trips Mallory Click took in college nearly took her life. At just 21, she developed deep vein thrombosis, a large blood clot that can develop from sitting for long periods of time.

"I woke up early that morning and my leg was swollen. It was just crazy how much bigger it was than my other leg," Click said.

Dr. Heather Hall said part of the clot had traveled to Click's lung, which can cause sudden death.

"It was very serious," said Hall, a vascular surgeon at Weiss Memorial Hospital.

Blood thinners can help prevent future clots, but the clot itself can take months to clear up. That can lead to permanent damage for up to 50 percent of patients with DVT within one year.

"So the sooner that you clear that clot from the vein, the more functional that vein is going to be long term," Hall said.

That's where the Trellis system comes in. A catheter traps the clot between two balloons. Then, clot-dissolving medication can be delivered directly to the site and broken up with a handheld motor, clearing the vein.

"These patients are going to have quicker resolution of their symptoms and also that long term their veins are going to be functional," Hall said.

It was lifesaving for Click, who's now paying more attention to her body on the road.

"I will definitely be more careful and take rest stops as much as possible," Click said.

Devices like the Trellis device are now being researched in a national study, which is currently enrolling patients to determine the best treatment for blood clots.

DOWNLOAD and VIEW research summary

DOWNLOAD and VIEW the full-length interview with Dr. Heather Hall about breaking up dangerous blood clots