What is it?

Thrombolysis is also known as thrombolytic therapy and is used to dissolve blood clots, improve blood flow and prevent organ and tissue damage. Medication is delivered to the blood clot through image-guided catheterization or through an intravenous line.

What is it for?

Blood flow to limbs can be blocked if a blood clot forms in artery of the arm of leg. Clots can cause severe pain or be fatal. Thrombolysis dissolves blood clots and restores blood flow.

How to prepare

  • Speak with your health care provider about your health history, medicines you are taking and allergies
  • You will receive instructions about eating and drinking prior to the procedure

What happens during?

  • An I.V. line will be put into a vein to help you relax and provide medicine so you will not feel pain during the procedure
  • A small incision is made. A catheter is put through the incision into an artery. Movement of the catheter is monitored on a screen.
  • Contrast material (dye) in inserted in the catheter into the artery. The contrast material allows the artery to be seen clearly on X-rays. The catheter is moved to the clot.
  • With the catheter at the clot, medicine in inserted in the catheter. The medicine dissolves the clot over a long period of time that can take up to three days.
  • The catheter is removed when the clot has dissolved.

What happens after?

  • You may have to stay overnight in the hospital if you had large or complex clots
  • You may have some pain that can be alleviated with medicine
  • While in the hospital, other imaging tests will be done to see is the clot has dissolved

Side effects

Upon returning home, call your doctor if you have:

  • A fever of 100.4°F or higher
  • Signs of infection at the catheter site such as redness, swelling and bleeding
  • Warmth at the catheter site
  • Pain at the catheter site that doesn’t go away or gets worse