Coronary Thrombectomy

A coronary thrombectomy is a procedure that is performed to remove a blood clot from the coronary arteries. The blockage of blood flow within an artery caused by a blood clot, is referred to as thrombosis. Coronary thrombosis is a term used to describe the blockage of a coronary artery as a result of a blood clot within that artery. Coronary thrombosis occurs when the opening of the artery becomes so small that the blood flow slows significantly, allowing the blood to clot in the artery. Left untreated, thrombosis of a coronary artery can lead to a heart attack.

Benefits of a Coronary Thrombectomy

If a blood clot develops in one of the coronary arteries, the blood supply to that area of the heart muscle will slow significantly or stop, resulting in chest pain and breathing difficulties. If the blockage is not dissolved quickly with medication or an emergency procedure, a heart attack may occur. A coronary thrombectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that can treat a coronary thrombosis. Benefits of this procedure include:

  • Blood clot is quickly removed
  • Immediate restoration of blood flow
  • Symptoms dissipate

After a coronary thrombectomy, the need for medication may be reduced or even eliminated.

The Coronary Thrombectomy Procedure

Prior to the procedure the patient is sedated with anesthesia. A small incision is made into the groin. During the coronary thrombectomy, a catheter is then inserted into an artery in the groin. The catheter is guided to the heart while the doctor views its movement on a monitor. A contrast dye is injected into the coronary arteries or heart to locate the thrombus (blood clot). The dye allows the surgeon to have a clear view of the affected vein. After the blood clot is located, another catheter with a vacuum function is guided to the site to remove the clot. Once the blood clot has been treated, the catheter is removed. A pressure bandage may be applied to the catheter entry site. A coronary thrombectomy takes 2 to 3 hours, and is performed in a hospital.

Recovery from a Coronary Thrombectomy Procedure

After the procedure, patients are required to stay in the hospital for a few hours for monitoring and some patients may stay in the hospital overnight for observation. The site where the catheter was inserted is checked for bleeding and patients may experience soreness or tenderness in the area. Medication may be prescribed to help prevent additional blood clots from forming.

Risks of a Coronary Thrombectomy Procedure

While a coronary thrombectomy is considered a safe procedure, there are risks including:

  • Reaction to contrast dye
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Damage to surrounding veins or tissue

The risk of developing complications is greater in patients who are older than 65 and for those that are in poor health.

Additional Resources