Blood clots can happen for a variety of reasons and spawn a variety of symptoms. In the past the biggest challenge has been safely clearing them out. However, in Yankton doctors are getting proficient at busting up blood clots.
Janet Frank isn't a doctor but she knew something wasn't quite right with her left arm.
"One evening I just noticed that my arm was purple and kind of a grayish purple and it was really purple back behind my elbow." Said Frank.
When the swelling didn't go away she had Dr. Luke Serck check it out. What he found was a large blood clot.
"Here's where your blood clot starts, there should be a big vein from here that goes all the way through and connects to this big vein here." Said Dr. Serck, a vascular surgeon at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital.
The culprit? A device designed to help Janet heal was malfunctioning.
"I had breast cancer three years ago and I had a port put in and (Dr. Serck) was positive that port was what was caused it" Said Frank.
A port is a direct line to a vein, in Janet's case it was to deliver chemotherapy but over time it also clotted the vein.
"The clot is actually right under your clavicle over your first rib." Said Dr. Serck.
Removing the port was only the first step to removing the massive blood clot. Given the size of Janet's clot Dr. Serck opted to use the hospital's newest tool; the EKOS clot buster.
It's an ultrasound assisted catheter that travels through the vein and through blood clots.
"We use special medication that actively dissolves clots and catheters that have ultrasound probes built into them that help fracture the clot so it can dissolve and go away." Said Dr. Serck.
The procedure is done in the catheterization lab but the process is completed overnight.
"And the catheter stays in for about 24 hours as it's fracturing the clot and dissolving the clot." Said Dr. Serck.
As if Janet didn't need anymore motivation to heal up, she got quite the surprise during recovery.
"My son called us and said we are having a baby today! My little granddaughter was due in September so she was 37 days early and was born the same day so she was in the NICU in Omaha and I was in the ICU in Yankton." Said Frank.
The next morning, Scans revealed EKOS did it's job perfectly.
"The clot is all gone, that vein was not there the day before." Said Dr. Serck.
There are plenty of benefits to this method. Doctors say with EKOS there is a much lower risk of embolism, they use significantly less clot-reducing drugs in the process, and dissolving the clot does not damage the vein wall or valves. Not to mention, it's also a very quick recovery for the patient.
"I was feeling great, it was like there was no recovery!" Said Frank.
Meaning that morning Janet was able to get on the road to Omaha and start her grand-motherly duties.
"She's already spoiled rotten." Said Frank.
As all granddaughters should be.
Janet says she was relieved to find out her chemo-port caused the clot instead of something else. But was a little sad as she was planning to keep the port in until her 5th year anniversary of being cancer free. For more information about EKOS just call 877-AT-AVERA.