Thrombectomy and embolectomy are performed to remove blood clots or foreign bodies from a blood vessel (vein or artery). A blood clot is a clump of blood that has changed from a liquid to a gel-like or semisolid state. When a clot forms inside one of your veins, it won’t always dissolve on its own. A thrombus is a solid-mass stationary clot. An embolus is a moving blood clot. Essentially, an embolus is a moving thrombus. Both of can pose serious and even fatal risks, such as stroke, heart attack, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, gangrene, loss of limbs, and other serious heart problems.

Thrombectomy and embolectomy can be performed using the following methods: Non-Invasive (no incisions required / small puncture / low to moderate sedation), minimally-invasive (small incisions of 2–3 inches long / general anesthesia), or through open-surgery (large incisions of 8-10 inches long / general anesthesia). The type of method chosen will vary according to your particular health condition.

Do you have a question? Request more information and we will connect you with an RWJBarnabas Health cardiovascular expert.

How to Prepare for the Procedure

Before the procedure, your doctor and treatment team will explain to you what to expect before, during and after the procedure, and potential risks of the procedure. Talk to your doctor about:

  • All medications, herbal products and dietary supplements you are currently taking and ask for their recommendations about each.
  • Diabetes and how to adjust your medicine on the day of the procedure.
  • Radiation exposure, especially for those that are pregnant.
  • Any allergies to medicines, latex, tape, iodine, and anesthetic agents.
  • Any history of bleeding disorders.
  • Any implanted device (e.g. pacemaker or ICD).
  • Any body piercings on your chest or abdomen.

Other recommendations include:

  • Eat a normal meal the evening before the procedure. However, do not eat, drink or chew anything after midnight before your procedure. If you must take medications, only take them with sips of water.
  • Leave all jewelry at home.
  • Remove all makeup and nail polish.
  • Wear comfortable clothing when you come to the hospital.
  • If you normally wear dentures, glasses, or hearing devices at home, plan to wear them during the procedure.

What to Expect Before the Procedure

To determine whether you need either procedure, your doctor might perform a variety of diagnostic tests, including:

What to Expect During the Procedure

A thrombectomy usually takes 1 to 2 hours, but the preparation and recovery time may add several hours. The procedure is usually done in the catheterization lab. Check with your doctor about the details of your procedure. In general, during a minimally-invasive thrombectomy:

  • You will change into a hospital gown.
  • A nurse will start the intravenous (IV) line in your arm which will administer medications, fluids, and also give you a sedative that will help you relax.
  • Prior to starting the procedure, you will receive a local anesthetic to numb the catheter insertion site(s). Once the local anesthetic has taken effect, a catheter will be inserted through the artery to the clot.
  • Afterwards, a special instrument called “stent retriever,” will be threaded through the catheter and guided to the blockage. Then the stent retriever is pushed through the clot.
  • After the stent retriever is through, it expands the size of the artery wall.
  • At this point, the stent retriever has captured the clot, and your doctor will be able to pull it backwards.
  • After the procedure is complete, the catheter and the stent retriever are removed and the insertion site(s) is closed with the use of a closure device (collagen) or sutures.

What to Expect After the Procedure

After this procedure, you will spend several hours in a recovery room. More often than not, you will be able to go home the same day. Other recommendations include:

General Guidelines

  • A nurse will monitor your vital signs, the insertion site, circulation and sensation in the affected leg or arm.
  • After the procedure, you may need to take medicine for a short time to prevent blood clots.
  • Your doctor will give you instructions to follow during your recovery.

Do you have a question? Request more information and we will connect you with an RWJBarnabas Health cardiovascular expert.

Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center
94 Old Short Hills Road
Livingston, NJ 07039
(973) 322-5000
Monmouth Medical Center
300 Second Avenue
Long Branch, NJ 07740
(732) 222-5200
Clara Maass Medical Center
1 Clara Maass Drive
Belleville, NJ 07109
(973) 450-2000
Community Medical Center
99 Highway 37 West
Toms River, NJ 08755
(732) 557-8000
Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
Jersey City Medical Center
355 Grand Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 915-2000
RWJ University Hospital Rahway
865 Stone Street
Rahway, NJ 07065
(732) 381-4200
RWJ University Hospital Somerset
110 Rehill Avenue
Somerville, NJ 08876
(908) 685-2200
RWJ University Hospital Hamilton
1 Hamilton Health Place
Hamilton, NJ 08690
(609) 586-7900
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
1 Robert Wood Johnson Place
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 828-3000
Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus
600 River Avenue
Lakewood, NJ 08701
(732) 363-1900

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