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Blood Clots, COVID-19 & Interventional Radiology

COVID-19 was all we could talk about in 2020. It will probably dominate most of our discussions this year too. The pandemic was almost an afterthought at the start of last year and has now sent a majority of the world into varying levels of quarantine.

Despite the new year, the virus is still at large while we continue to hope for favourable outcomes with the vaccine. While news of the vaccine is welcome, it is alarming to see the number of people who have brushed aside the seriousness of Covid-19. Especially because of the high recovery rate.

However, current trends show us that some who have suffered from the virus will continue to feel its effects long after recovery. We still don’t know enough about the virus and the long term effects on health.

But hospitals are recording that previously healthy people are now experiencing frequent hospital visits months after recovering from the virus.

To top it all off, new studies are indicating a link between Covid-19 and blood clots. A complication that can lead to a stroke if not caught in time. One of the latest victims of this complication is a 3-year-old toddler from the US.

Blood Clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) happens when a clump of blood turns into a solid state. This, in turn, reduces the amount of blood flow through those veins.

Swelling, pain, and serious complications can occur and make DVTs a potentially fatal condition. Which makes fast treatment imperative to survival.

Currently, the go-to treatment of blood clots for COVID-19 patients is anticoagulants, more commonly known as blood thinners. However, in more severe cases – other options need to be explored.

Interventional Radiology During Covid-19

Interventional Radiology continues to play its part during this pandemic.

General interventional procedures include emergency embolisations, drainage procedures and central line insertions. Many hospitalised Covid-19 patients have benefited from the wide array of procedures interventional radiologists offer.  

And a particular interventional procedure may just be one of the most impactful procedures in tackling blood clots in Covid-19 patients.

Mechanical Thrombectomy

It is a minimally-invasive procedure in which an interventional radiologist uses specialized equipment to remove a clot from the patient’s artery.

Like all IR practices, it is a minimally invasive procedure.

It starts with a small incision in either the wrist or the abdomen, giving doctors access to the artery. Then, a tiny net-like device called a stent retriever is inserted into a catheter and guided to the blockage.

The stent retriever pushes through the clot, to extract it all at once.

Not only does this procedure treat Deep Vein Thrombosis, but also Ischemic Stroke – a blood clot that forms in an artery leading to the brain. Left untreated, it can cause permanent brain damage in a matter of minutes.

This pandemic has called all factions of medicine to action and its severity should not be disregarded. It is important to take precautions to keep yourself and those around you safe.

You can find out more about the interventional radiology treatments we offer here.

It is more important than ever to check in with your doctor on the severity of your symptoms and the options available to you.

Book a consultation with Dr Quigley