Health Matters: The AngioVac Device

The AngioVac Device is an option for those who can't take blood thinners

HEALTH MATTERS — Blood clots can be fatal, if left untreated.

Some cases require more than the usual blood thinning treatment.

Typically, a physician will insert an IV behind a patient’s knee and insert a blood thinner to remove clots.

However, because of other medical reasons, that’s not an option for all people.

The AngioVac device was first approved by the FDA in 2012.

“It uniquely is able to do maximum suction,” said Dr.Richard Coursey, a Vascular and Interventional Radiologist at Essentia Health.

In 2014, it was approved for use for clots in the legs and the pelvis.

It became an option for people who can’t take blood thinners.

Examples include those who just had surgery, have active GI bleeding or have a history of cancer.

“Not only can it remove a massive clot that’s new, but it also has the ability to suck out and get rid of chronic clot that all of our current measures can’t really get rid of,” explained Dr. Coursey.

It was first used at Essentia on Sam Olson, a 24-year-old from Wahpeton back in October.

Physicians discovered a seven inch clot in her leg shortly after she had back surgery.

“All they had to do was do a small incision in my neck and two in my leg,” said Sam.

“The catheter goes in through the vein where you are going to try to approach the clot,” explained Dr. Coursey. “Then, the catheter sucks blood out through the heart bypass machine or a component of that filters out the clot and then the blood that’s sucked out that’s good is returned to the patient in another cannula. So there’s not really blood loss.”

“Before the AngioVac, they would have to open patients up to get the blood clots out,” said Sam.

She was released from the hospital the next day and, after talking with many physicians, she was left with more knowledge of this device than most in the metro.

“They had to bring in some other doctors that specialize in this machine just because Dr. Coursey was trying to bring in this machine for a couple years,” explained Sam. “They thought a lot of other cases weren’t as important or they didn’t really need it. It was kind of cool that I was the first one that had to use the machine in the hospital.”

Dr. Coursey says if you do get a clot removed, you will most likely have to take blood thinning medication for a few months.

To learn more about blood clots, check out our previous Health Matters.