Pulmonary Embolism

Board Certified Vascular Surgeons, Vascular Surgery & Cardiology located in Kalamazoo, Allegan, Battle Creek, Coldwater, Sturgis and Three Rivers, MI

Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary Embolism services offered in Kalamazoo, Allegan, Battle Creek, Coldwater, Sturgis and Three Rivers, MI

Pulmonary embolism is a deep vein thrombosis complication where blood clots travel from your leg to your lung. The experienced team at Advanced Vascular Surgery throughout Michigan, offers speedy pulmonary embolism diagnosis and treatment, dissolving the clots to prevent life-threatening complications. To learn more about pulmonary embolism symptoms and benefit from a fast evaluation, call Advanced Vascular Surgery or request an appointment online today.  

Pulmonary Embolism Q & A

What is a pulmonary embolism?

A pulmonary embolism is a potentially life-threatening blood clot in your lung. The clot forms in a vein (deep vein thrombosis or DVT), usually in the leg or pelvis, then travels through your bloodstream until it reaches a lung.

Pulmonary embolism symptoms include:

  • Tightening in the chest
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Chest pain (which may extend to the arm, shoulder, neck, and jaw)
  • Coughing or spitting up blood
  • Feeling lightheaded or fainting
  • Rapid heartbeat

A pulmonary embolism requires immediate medical attention. A large clot or multiple small ones can quickly prove fatal.

How is a pulmonary embolism diagnosed?

Your Advanced Vascular Surgery provider first performs a thorough physical exam and checks your medical history. To confirm the diagnosis and evaluate your condition, they may also use one or more diagnostic procedures, such as:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Electrocardiogram
  • D-dimer enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay blood test
  • Lung scan
  • Spiral CT scan
  • Pulmonary angiography (lung blood vessel X-ray)
  • Duplex ultrasound to assess blood flow
  • Venography (X-rays of the leg veins)

These tests and procedures provide invaluable information that helps the Advanced Vascular Surgery team determine the best treatment for you.

How is a pulmonary embolism treated?

Your provider might begin your pulmonary embolism treatment with intravenous (IV) heparin. That anticoagulant drug helps stop your blood from clotting too readily, preventing new blood clots from forming and stopping existing clots from growing. After the initial heparin therapy, you’ll likely need daily oral anticoagulation medications.

If your pulmonary embolism is large or anticoagulant therapy is unsuitable, your provider might recommend thrombolysis to dissolve the clot. They feed a slim, flexible pipe (catheter) into a vein leading to the embolism and inject clot-dissolving drugs directly into the clot.

Open and suction thrombectomy could be an option if there’s no other choice in a life-threatening situation. However, these are high-risk procedures, so the Advanced Vascular Surgery team rarely performs them.

If drug therapy isn’t suitable for you or can’t prevent future pulmonary embolisms, your provider might recommend a vena cava filter. This device is a small metal filter that fits inside the body’s main vein (the vena cava). It traps any clots that travel up from your leg veins so they can’t reach your lungs.

To learn more about pulmonary embolism treatment, call Advanced Vascular Surgery or schedule a consultation online today.