Thrombolytic Therapy

Thrombolytic Therapy:


A thrombolytic is a medication injected through your veins that dissolves blood clots. Often it is referred to as “clot-busting” medication. The delivery of a thrombolytic is often an emergency procedure and the best result is when there is a short time between the diagnosis of DVT/PE and the start of thrombolytic therapy. It is mostly used in cases of life or limb-threatening blood clots. In almost all cases, close monitoring, possibly in an intensive care unit (ICU), is required after administration of thrombolytic therapy.

Thrombolysis (the procedure used to inject thrombolytics) can improve blood flow and help with symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or Pulmonary Embolism (PE). It is not without risks and therefore recommended only when absolutely necessary.


Here are some examples of conditions where thrombolytics should be avoided:

  • Severe high blood pressure
  • Active bleeding
  • Recent bleeding in the brain
  • Recent major stroke
  • Severe kidney disease
  • Recent surgery or trauma



Potential Risks of Thrombolysis:


The most significant risk of this therapy is bleeding. Bleeding can occur anywhere in the body and can range from minor to severe and life-threatening.


Some examples of bleeding complications can include:

  • Blood from catheter sites and IV sites
  • Blood in the urine
  • Bloody in the stool
  • Vomiting or spitting blood
  • Bleeding in joints (knees, elbows)
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Bleeding in the brain



How is Thrombolysis performed?


If you need to have thrombolysis and are eligible, your doctor will decide to use one of two techniques to administer the medication:

  • It can be injected through an IV catheter and allowed to circulate in your whole body or
  • It can be injected directly into the clot (most often in the case of DVT) using a long catheter inserted by a specialized radiologist.

The first method is the most rapid method of administration and is used in emergency situations where time is of the essence.



Did you know?

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Did you know that certain oral anticoagulants (blood thinners) don’t require regular blood tests and can be taken instead of warfarin (Coumadin) in patients with:


-Deep Vein Thrombosis or Pulmonary Embolism

-Atrial Fibrillation in patients who never had a  heart valve replacement

Did you know that there is an information video playing in CETAC about warfarin (Coumadin) that can also be viewed on this website?

Did you know that our Anticoagulation and Thrombosis clinic is now called CETAC ? It stands for  “Centre of Excellence in Thrombosis and Anticoagulation.”

Did you know that CETAC is heavily involved in research to advance the care and lifestyle of our patients? You can look on this website to see what studies we are doing and if you are a potential participant.