Procedure removes blood clots as one piece


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Doctors at HCA Florida Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville formed a team to remove pulmonary embolisms. They say it speeds up recovery time.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A new method of treatment is reducing hospital stays for patients and treating their illness with less medication. 

A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot in the lung that can be fatal, but a team at HCA Memorial believes it developed a program that will save thousands of lives.

“A decade ago we had a very limited portfolio of treatment options for patients,” said Dr. Mohannad Bisharat, an Interventional Cardiology Specialist at HCA Memorial in Jacksonville, FL. “Particularly just blood thinners and that had a substantially low outcome to their survival.”

Three years ago Dr. Bisharat and his team at HCA Memorial began offering invasive thrombectomy procedures to treat deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms. This type of procedure is not new, but what is unique to HCA Memorial is that they have a Pulmonary Embolism Response Team – or PERT Team – on call 24/7. The result of these procedures is the total removal of a blood clot as one object.

“Being able to go in and physically extract the clot gives you this visual reward of curing the problem,” said Dr. Bisharat. “It’s a wow reaction.”

The clots that are removed from patient’s lungs can be longer than a marker. To do this, doctors insert a catheter into the patient’s thigh while the patient is under conscious sedation, which means they are sometimes awake.

“That allows us to address the condition faster and mechanically extract the blood clots,” said Dr. Bisharat, “I’ve been amazed at the amount of clots we’ve extracted from these cases.”

According to Bisharat, the mortality rate of pulmonary embolisms has decreased from 20% to just 1% since the PERT Team went into effect. Furthermore, he says Bisharat says that the average hospital stay for a patient with this procedure is just 48 hours compared to seven days or a lifetime of blood thinner medication, which is standard for previous treatment methods.

“There is nothing in the history of medicine that’s changed the mortality rate of such a cunning disease in a short period of time,” said Bisharat. “When you go to see the patient before the procedure you tell them they have a blood clot sitting in their lungs or heart and after 20 to 50 minutes of a procedure you hand it to them in his hand and say that it’s out.”

The PERT Team has taken out 250 pulmonary embolisms with this procedure. Less than 5% of embolisms in the United States are treated with this procedure but Bisharat hopes the PERT Team acts as an example for other hospitals across the country.

“I treated those patients 7 years ago,” said Bisharat. “We always had bad outcome expectations, I always tell their family members this is a fatal disease. Nowadays, I have a different message for them, I say there’s a clot in his lungs, and I’m going to go and get it.”

HCA Memorial hopes that this procedure becomes the standard practice of treatment for pulmonary embolisms.


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