Image guided treatment for DVT is getting better and better.

It’s called catheter-directed thrombolysis.

DVT kills up to 60,000 Americans every year; deep vein thrombosis, or, in layman’s terms: blood clot.

A DVT, which usually develops in the lower extremities, is a potentially life threatening condition, since the blood clot can break loose and travel to the lungs.

Deep vein thrombosis is normally treated with blood thinner drugs.

However, image-guided interventional radiology is progressing to help eradicate these dangerous blood clots.

A report of this is detailed in the October 2009 American Journal of Roentgenology.

In the U.S. every year, it’s estimated that one million people develop deep vein thrombosis.

Treatment of DVT with blood thinners is effective at preventing the blood clot from breaking loose and making its way to the lungs (this is called a pulmonary embolus).

Unfortunately, blood thinners (anticoagulants) do not completely abolish the DVT, nor do blood thinners prevent long-term complications, which include leg pain and swelling.

“Image-guided pharmacomechanical catheter directed thrombolysis, which until recently has been typically used to treat only the most critical DVT cases, involves the delivery of a clot busting drug through a catheter-mounted device that also ‘chews’ up a clot — eliminating it completely and possibly improving a patient’s long-term outcome and preventing future occurrences.

“If this technique is proven to prevent long-term DVT complications and improve patient outcomes, it only makes sense to use it on many more patients with DVT,” explains Suresh Vedantham, MD, lead author of the study reported in the AJR.

Few people with deep vein thrombosis even know that image-guided treatments are out there. Nevertheless, there is no proof at this time that image-guided treatments offer success long-term.

A national clinical trial (ATTRACT Trial) is in progress, however, to investigate if the routine removal of blood clots is the best treatment for a DVT.

According to, deep vein thrombosis is the leading cause of preventable fatalities in hospitals.

Though one risk factor for DVT is being over age 40, other risk factors apply to even younger people, such as smoking, being obese and surgery, particularly abdominal, along with hip and knee replacement.

Prolonged restriction of movement is another risk factor, and this can occur on long airplane flights and long road trips, as well as at a desk job. Additional risk factors for DVT include cancer therapy and varicose veins.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.