A pulmonary embolism is a blockage or clot in one of the pulmonary arteries leading to the lung that can lead to death in up to one-third of all patients. While blood thinners are often administered to break up the clot, there is one FDA-approved device that surgeons can use for removal.
A pulmonary embolism may strike otherwise healthy men and women, and in many cases, there is little to no warning. Patients need immediate medical attention to restore blood flow. One FDA approved medical device allows surgeons to thread a catheter into a patient’s pulmonary artery to grab the clot. It’s called the FlowTriever.
“It consists of a large bore aspiration catheter, and this forms as you pass across the clot and retrieve them with the clot in it,” explained Catalin Toma, MD, director of interventional cardiology at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Dr. Toma led a national review of the FlowTriever in a study called FLASH. Early results show the device was safe in 230 patients tested, with few major side effects, and there was an almost immediate improvement in patients.
“It acts very quickly. It gives you a very quick effect, by taking the clot out, you see an immediate benefit on the table in terms of hemodynamic improvement, symptoms improvement, heart rate improvement,” described Dr. Toma.
Researchers also had one other unexpected, but welcome finding, surgeons said the device worked for patients who had pulmonary embolisms as a result of COVID-19. It’s important to note that Dr. Toma reports no ties to Inari Medical, the company that designed the FlowTriever.