ORLANDO, Fla. (KFSN) -- Pulmonary embolism, or a potentially fatal blockage of blood vessels in the lungs, strikes as many as 600,000 Americans each year, many of whom had no symptoms. Now there is a new minimally-invasive treatment option that restores blood flow quickly.
Martha Hutchison, 73, cared for her late husband for five years then battled breast cancer, but it was an unexpected ticking time bomb that almost got the best of her.
"I remember turning this corner and heading to the bedroom and that's the last thing I remembered. The next thing I knew I woke up and I was on the floor of the bedroom," detailed Hutchison.
Paramedics rushed Hutchison to the hospital. She had no idea the pain in her leg she'd been ignoring was a clot. It was potentially blocking blood flow.
Rohit Bhatheja, M.D., FACC, an interventional cardiologist at Florida Hospital told Ivanhoe, "Unfortunately, she wasn't a candidate for blood thinners." (Read Full Interview)
Instead, Dr. Bhatheja felt Hutchison would respond well to a new clot-removing device called the FlowTriever.
"FlowTriever is a mechanical mesh suction device," said Dr. Bhatheja.
Doctors insert a catheter into the patient's groin vein then move the device to the clot, catching the clot with the mesh, and then they retract the device.
Dr. Bhatheja explained, "We are not doing any major surgery. We are not cutting open any skin. We are doing everything through keyholes and punctures through the groin."
Hutchison was released from the hospital after a few days, and has been slowly, but steadily on the mend.
"I can get up and do almost anything now," said Hutchison.
Dr. Bhatheja said for some high-risk patients the FlowTriever procedure could be a better option than open cardiac surgery. He said patients can feel almost instant relief of the pressure on the heart and lungs.