By Jill Buterbaugh, RN, MSN, CRNP, FNP-BC
Blood clots are one of the most feared complications of any invasive procedure. According to the Center for Disease Control, in the general population which includes all people, not just those having invasive procedures, they occur at the rate of 1 to 2 in 1000 people and 10% to 30% will die as a complication, most often due to migration of the clot to the lungs. There are measures that can be taken to reduce the chance of blood clots if risk factors are identified and addressed.
The most common reason for developing a blood clot is having a clotting disorder. Some people have clotting disorders and do not know it until a clot is diagnosed. Finding out about family history of clotting disorders is important because these are genetic disorders. There are simple blood tests that can be done to determine if you inherited the disorder.
There are certain circumstances that also increase your risk for developing blood clots. Recent surgery or trauma, knee or hip replacement, having cancer or just having a recent blood clot will make you more prone to developing another one. Obesity, traveling or sitting in one position for extended periods of time can also cause an increased risk as does pregnancy, birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy.
Most often, blood clots develop in the deep veins of the legs obstructing the return of blood from the leg to the heart. This causes leg to swell, become red and painful. It is important to have a medical evaluation if new leg pain with swelling and redness happens. Blood clots are treated by starting medications known as anti-coagulants. Anti-coagulants do not make the clot go away, your body breaks down the clot and reabsorbs it, but they do prevent the clot from becoming larger and reduce the risk of part of the clot migrating to the heart, lung or brain. In some instances, filters are place in a large vein in the abdomen to catch any clots that may travel.
Endothermal ablation procedures are very safe procedures if performed by someone who has been adequately trained to do them. According to research, deep vein thrombosis after endothermal ablation occurs at a rate of 1% to 7%. In reality, the risk is even lower than the research has published, most providers feel it is closer to 1% due to advancement in techniques. Although it is a small risk, it is a real risk so everyone who has an ablation procedure at our facility will have a follow up ultrasound in 2 to 5 days to identify if a clot is developing. If it is treated before it becomes occlusive, there is much less chance of developing a complication.
If you have a clotting disorder or a history of a blood clot from any reason, it is important to always tell any health care provider you see. In our facility, we do not stop anti-coagulation medications before doing endothermal ablations. There is very little blood loss with these procedures and the risk of stopping the medication is higher than not stopping it.
To reduce your risk of developing a blood clot there are a few things you can do. Stay hydrated and stay active. Walking for 5 minutes every hour while you are awake after the procedure is encouraged. If walking is not possible, stretching the leg out and doing heel-toe exercises will help. Stay on your anti-coagulant or aspirin therapy as directed by your family physician. Follow up for the scheduled ultrasound and wear the compression stockings as directed.
For more information about endovenous ablation procedures, please call for an evaluation at (814) 515-9919.