Deep Vein Thrombosis Treatment at Stanford Hospital - Laura Resnansky's Story

Author: Stanford Health Care

I think I've always had an active childhood. I grew up with three siblings, and my family--we were active sailors, yeah I was a lifeguard, I enjoyed swimming, so activities have always been a big part of my life and just a big part of my family growing up. It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving and I was 20 weeks pregnant. And my leg was swelling up. My mom was here, and she looked at it and said, "I need to get you to the emergency room right away." And they treated me with blood thinners, and then put me on bedrest from the end of November until the early part of April. As the symptoms continued, with the numbness, the pain, the swelling, I was referred to Doctor Hoffman down at Stanford. DVT is a blood clot that forms in your vein, in either your arm or your leg. The problem is, once this blood clot forms in your vein, the blood cannot get out of your arm or leg, and get back to your heart.

And so you typically have symptoms of pain and swelling. DVT is typically treated with blood thinners. And this is the way DVT has been treated for about 40 years, but the principle behind it is fundamentally flawed. Blood thinners prevent blood clots from getting bigger, but they don't do anything to dissolve the blood clot. DVT treatment at Stanford is unique, and it's probably the leading institution in the world for the treatment of both acute and chronic DVT. We find that if it's a large clot, the body cannot digest the clot itself while being just on blood thinners. So we go in with a device that breaks up the clot, and also delivers a clot-busting drug in a high-dose concentration to the clot to dissolve the clot.

That was pioneered here at Stanford 10-15 years ago. In chronic DVT, the vein is completely blocked, and it sometimes is almost completely gone. So our approach to those patients is to just place a stent, which is a metal tube, into the vein so that we can open up the vein and restore blood flow out of the leg. The procedure was very straightforward. It was an outpatient procedure; I was home that evening having dinner with my family, so it was very straightforward and a pretty quick recovery. It was a matter of having a band-aid behind, behind my knee, and taking that off maybe two or three days later.

These are patients that are typically very healthy, other than the fact that they develop the DVT. It significantly impairs their lifestyle: a 30-year-old that can no longer run, can no longer go to the gym, and it's very gratifying as a physican when we can go in and fix that, and the response is almost immediately that they are able to get back on their path and back to their level of activity that they've done in the past. I think it would have been a huge life change if I was told I couldn't run or be active with my children or do things with my husband. Walking around with a blood clot is not a comforting thought, so versus now, I can say, "I don't have a blood clot; I just have a stent in my leg.

Deep Vein Thrombosis Treatment at Stanford Hospital - Laura Resnansky's Story

I don't think about it at all. I feel pretty lucky that the outcome was as positive as it was.

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