Venous Thromboembolism Treatment
Not everyone who is diagnosed with venous thromboembolism (VTE) needs treatment. In some cases, your doctor will detect a clot and decide to monitor it instead of treating it right away. Doctors usually recommend medicines to treat VTE, but a vena cava filter may be used if you cannot take the medicine.
- Blood thinners (anticoagulants): Blood thinners keep blood clots from getting larger and stop new clots from forming. Conventional blood thinners include warfarin and heparin, but newer blood-thinning medicines are also available. To take them, you might get an injection, take a pill, or have an IV tube inserted. Possible side effects include bleeding, especially if you are taking other medicines that also thin your blood, such as aspirin.
- Medicines to interfere with the process of clot formation (thrombin inhibitors): These medicines may be given to people who cannot use heparin. Your doctor will give you this medicine as an injection (shot).
- Medicines to dissolve blood clots (thrombolytics): These medicines are used for large blood clots that cause severe symptoms or other serious complications. Because thrombolytics can cause sudden bleeding, they are used only for serious and potentially life-threatening VTE events, such as pulmonary embolism. You will get this medicine through an IV.
Catheter-assisted thrombus removal
In some cases, including emergencies, a doctor may need to do a catheter-assisted thrombus removal. This procedure uses a flexible tube to reach a blood clot in your lung. The doctor can insert a tool in the tube to break up the clot or to deliver medicine through the tube. Usually you will get medicine to put you to sleep for this procedure.
Vena cava filter
Some people who cannot take blood thinners may need a vena cava filter to treat their deep vein thrombosis. The filter is inserted inside a large vein called the vena cava. The filter catches blood clots before they travel to the lungs, which prevents pulmonary embolism. However, the filter does not stop new blood clots from forming. A filter is not usually recommended if you have taken blood thinners.