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Advancements in Blood Clot Removal Technology Saves a Patient’s Life without Open Heart Surgery

Lutheran Medical Group cardiologists work in tandem to remove blockage in heart

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Monday, Feb. 23, 2015) – A team of physicians and medical staff at Lutheran Hospital have successfully used a new method to remove dangerous blood clots with a non-surgical approach that includes a filter and a vein vacuum. As a result, Shirley Lewis, 80, avoided open heart surgery; and even stitches. The first case of its kind to be completed in northeastern Indiana left cardiologists and peers at Lutheran Hospital optimistic about the potential for high-risk surgery patients to have another option.

Two interventional cardiologists from Lutheran Medical Group, Mark Meier, MD, and Vijay Chilakamarri, MD, worked together in the catheterization lab to suction two large clots, one several inches long, through a line inserted into a major neck vein. The vacuum-like device, called the AngioVac, is attached to a bypass pump and pulls blood through the catheter line and into a cylinder-shaped canister with a filter to capture the emboli or clot. The blood returns back into the body through another catheter attached to the canister and inserted into the femoral vein, recirculating the blood through the body.

“We were familiar with the procedure, but we had never used that system before,” said Dr. Meier. “We were prepared for the right patient’s case to present itself. Working together when the stakes are so high really makes me proud to be a part of Lutheran’s team. This is why we do what we do.”

Because of her age and other health issues, Lewis was not a strong candidate for open heart surgery. Her family is not new to heart conditions. Decades earlier, Lewis’ husband had a fatal heart attack at age 29, after surviving two prior ones.

“While she is still very sick, mom’s better than she has been in five years,” said Lewis’ youngest daughter, Melanie Renner-Brown. “It’s not just a job to them, it’s a miracle what this group of doctors did for her. All I could do is hug these guys. They saved my mother’s life.”

Meier, Chilakamarri, Lewis and Renner-Brown will be available to media at 1 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 24, at the Lutheran Heart Pavilion. Images and video of the clots will be made available to those who attend. Guests are invited to park at the pavilion entrance on the I-69 side of the hospital.

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If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911.
*ER wait times are door to clinical professional and can change quickly depending on the urgency of patients that arrive by ambulance. Lutheran Health Network provides care to patients with life-threatening illnesses first.
Patients are seen in order of severity, therefore, your spot may not be guaranteed. In case of a life-threatening emergency, call 911.
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Patient results may vary. Consult your physician about the benefits and risks of any surgical procedure or treatment.