Doctors pull 12-inch long clot from woman's heart

Bille Lee (Source: NBC)
Bille Lee (Source: NBC)

(NBC) - Cardiologists have removed a 12-inch blood clot from an Arkansas woman's heart in the first complete clot removal of its kind in Texas.

Billie Lee, 82, was airlifted from Texarkana to see doctors at Plaza Medical Center on May 17. The next day doctors performed a percutaneuous heart clot removal using a recently developed technology called the AngioVac.

"Because surgery was not an option for Ms. Lee, using the AngioVac to remove the clot was her only chance," said Dr. Farhan Ali, an interventional cardiologist with The Heart Center of North Texas. "This new technology is designed to facilitate removal of large undesirable material, like this clot, from the body without the need for open heart surgery."

"This technique has been performed in only 15 states so far, and this marks the first completely successful one of its kind in the state of Texas," said Mike Glennon, president and CEO of Vortex Medical, the company that makes the AngioVac.

"Scott and White in Temple and St. Luke's Texas Heart Institute in Houston have performed partially successful clot removals, but Friday's procedure at Plaza is the first complete clot removal in Texas to date," Glennon said.

Plaza Medical Center doctors believe the clot began as a deep vein thrombosis that broke loose and traveled to the heart. Lee will be treated with blood thinners to prevent future clots from dislodging.

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