Learning About Thrombolytic Treatment for Pulmonary Embolism

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What is thrombolytic treatment for pulmonary embolism?

Thrombolytics are medicines that dissolve blood clots fast. Blood clots cause pulmonary embolisms.

Pulmonary embolism is the sudden blockage of an artery in the lung. The blockage is most often caused by a blood clot. In most cases, the clots are small and are not deadly, but they can damage the lung. If the clot is large and stops blood flow to the lung, it can be fatal. Quick treatment could save your life or reduce the risk of future problems.

Your doctor will explain your treatment options based on your condition. Your options may include medicines that stop the clot from getting bigger.

How is it done?

This treatment is done while you are in the hospital.

The medicine may be given through a vein in your hand or arm. It travels through the bloodstream to the clot.

Sometimes the doctor inserts a thin tube called a catheter through your skin into a blood vessel. The doctor moves the catheter through the blood vessel to the site of the clot. The catheter delivers the medicine to the clot.

You'll be closely watched for some time after you get the treatment to make sure there is no internal bleeding.

What are the risks of this treatment?

This medicine greatly increases the risk of bleeding throughout your body. Bleeding is serious when it happens anywhere inside your body. It is even more serious if it happens in or around your brain.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.