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Laser research looks at breaking up clots

An article on HowStuffWorks.com takes a look at research into using lasers to break up blood clots and prevent strokes.

According to the article, the challenge in that field of research is making the pulse of the laser strong enough to effectively bust up the clot without breaking the blood vessel walls.

In addition to lasers, the article says, several other mechanical means of removing clots have been tested, including an ultrasound device that could change the structure of a clot; a corkscrew inside a catheter that could pull out a clot; a jet inside a catheter that creates a clot-busting vacuum by spraying a saline solution at high pressures; and a catheter outfitted with a vacuum to suck in the clot and blades to chop it up.

There are also devices meant to prevent blood clots from traveling to the brain, heart or lungs, but some of them have proven problematic.

For example, the IVC filter is a small cage-like device implanted in a major vein that runs from the legs to the heart, meant to intercept blood clots. But a study conducted by the New England Society for Vascular Surgery found that 31 percent of the IVC filters fracture.

Broken filter shards can cause chest pain and a dangerous build-up of fluid and pressure around the heart, with potentially deadly consequences.

One laser method that researchers are developing involves a LaTIS laser device. The laser is encased in a catheter, which would be inserted in the groin and guided through the body to the brain. Doctors would monitor the catheter’s progress through an imaging device such as angiogram, guide it to the clot, then fire the laser to break the clot up.

The laser, able to sense color and light, would fire only at the red of the blood clot as opposed to the white vessel wall.

Another method is the Endovascular Photo Acoustic Recanalization (EPAR) Laser, which would use a less powerful laser to attack the clot. In this method, the laser wouldn’t directly bust the clot. Instead, the laser’s energy would be converted to acoustic energy. That creates tiny bubbles at the tip of the catheter, and the expansion and collapse of the bubbles suck in the clot.

If you’ve received an IVC filter, you should consult with a doctor if you have any ongoing symptoms or health concerns. If you have significant injuries, you should also consult with a IVC filter lawyer to discuss your legal rights.

See the article here:

http://health.howstuffworks.com/medicine/modern-technology/laser-clot-busting1.htm