SOMC Using New Technology For Clot-busting

SOMC surgeon Thomas L. Khoury, MD, (left) discusses a procedure to open restricted arteries using ultrasound frequencies to deliver clot-busting medication.

At Southern Ohio Medical Center a new combination of ultrasound and clot-busting medication delivery is helping save lives.

Vascular surgeon Thomas L. Khoury, MD, is using a special catheter to reach dangerous clots, delivering both medication and ultrasound to loosen and dissolve clots that block the flow of blood throughout the body.

The EKOS system is a catheter-based delivery system. A hollow tube inserted into an artery or vein allows a special tube to be directed to the clot. While medicine used to break up and dissolve clots is delivered through ports along the tube’s sides into the clot area, tiny transducers also located along the tube deliver high-frequency low-power ultrasound into the clot.

“The fabric of blood clots, which is called fibrin, is tightly bound,” Dr. Khoury explains. “The ultrasound loosens and separates fibrin so more clot-busting medication can reach more tissue, and the ultrasound helps drive the medication deeper into the clot.”

During a recent case, Dr. Khoury described the process.

“The patient had multiple blockages along both sides of the lungs,” he said. “The blood was blocked from flowing over much of the lung tissue, preventing the patient from getting enough oxygen. Using the EKOS technology we directed a catheter through an artery down the patient’s neck, through the heart and to the sites on the lungs. We then were able to use the ultrasound and infuse the clots, breaking them up safely. The results of improved blood flow and oxygen delivery were evident almost immediately. The patient gained better color, was able to breathe easier, and was clearly in much better shape.”

Dr. Khoury performs numerous procedures at SOMC with a variety of catheter-based technology to address issues of the vascular system such as blockages caused by blood clots.

“The care we can provide with the use of technology like this infusion system shows how far we’ve come in such a short time, in terms of medical advances that save lives here at SOMC,” Dr. Khoury said.

Vascular procedures are a focal point of expanding services at the hospital, with new facilities under construction in the Surgical Services Department that will be dedicated specifically to such operations. The expanded surgical suites are expected to open in 2008.