Attacking a monster clot

FRESNO, Calif.

His doctor says a device that's revolutionizing the way he attacks clots may have saved the patient's life.

Two and a half feet! That's how big the blood clot was in Gerry Cunha's body.

"I just couldn't imagine two and a half feet of clotting," Gerry Cunha, told Action News.

It was deep vein thrombosis or DVT.

"It's a clot that forms in the deep veins of the leg," Warren Swee, M.D, MPH, a vascular and interventional radiologist at South Florida Vascular Associates, in Coconut Creek, Fla., explained.

The clot went from below his knee to his lower abdomen. The traveling salesman was in trouble.

"I could hardly walk," Gerry said. "I was in such horrible pain."

There was a serious chance of pulmonary embolism. The clot could break off, enter his lungs and kill him. In a letter he told his wife goodbye, but she didn't have to read it thanks to the EKOS system.

It goes into the blockage and delivers clot-busting medication like other catheter devices, but the EKOS adds ultrasound. Doctor Warren Swee says the vibration better penetrates the clot, making it easier to dissolve.

"It cuts down the time and the amount of clot busting medication we need," Dr. Swee said.

He tells us it requires half the time and half the medication of similar procedures, making it safer for patients like Gerry who can't handle high doses of clot-busting drugs.

"Patients that may not have been a candidate before may be a candidate now," Dr. Swee said.

Today Gerry's leg is back to normal and he's back on the road.

"I can drive about 300 to 400 miles a week," Gerry said.

Because of the size of Gerry's clot, it took doctor Swee two days to completely dissolve it.

While on long road trips, Gerry wears compression socks, does exercises like wiggling his toes and gets out for short walks to help prevent another clot from forming. To prevent them while on long flights, walk around the plane every hour or two, change positions in your seat, drink lots of fluids and try not to cross your legs.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Warren Swee, MD, MPH
Florida Vascular Associates

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