How do we treat a Pulmonary Embolism?
Most pulmonary embolic disease is treated simply with blood-thinning medications. However, if an embolism is detected one of the first things done is to look in the extremities to see if there is more clot. If there is more clot if it breaks free the embolism can get larger and more dangerous.
The veins in the legs and sometimes the arms are examined with venous ultrasound to detect any blood clots which may break free and travel to the lungs.
Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filter:
If there is enough clot left in the legs an IVC filter can be placed in the main vein in the belly, the IVC. This filter can catch the clot traveling upwards from the legs before it gets to the lungs.
If the clot is very large and immediately life-threatening further treatment may be needed where a catheter is fed through the veins in the groin up to the clot in the chest. From there clot-busting medication can be given which will dissolve the clot (thrombolysis) or the clot may be removed directly.