New blood clot-busting device used by Mercy Springfield is cutting edge technology without the cutting

Published: Dec. 24, 2020 at 4:55 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 24, 2020 at 8:38 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Springfield’s Mercy Hospital has become the first medical facility in the Midwest to use a new advancement in technology to break up blood clots, which are very common in COVID-19 patients.

It’s a device called the Lighting 12, made by Penumbra, and it looks a little like a juicer or coffee maker.

“This is groundbreaking technology. A very significant advance for vascular surgery,” said Mercy Vascular Surgeon Dr. Christopher Stout. “It’s about the size of a large coffee machine. When I talk to patients I tell them I’m going to take a long fancy catheter that’s about the size of a yellow pencil and is basically a vacuum cleaner, and this vacuum cleaner is basically going to suck out all the bad clots and leave the blood behind for you.”

Like so many other advancements in artery and vein-related treatment, the new clot-buster eliminates the need for cutting patients open.

“This device allows us to do it through the skin, through a little tiny needle puncture.” Dr. Stout said.

And in removing the clot but not the blood, it’s different than other tools used for similar procedures.

“We have devices that can remove clots but it also removes the blood,” Dr. Stout explained. “So you can only do so much before you have to stop or you’ve removed too much of their blood and that can be pretty bad also.”

20 year-old Alyssa Lee of Rogers, Arkansas became the first patient in the Midwest treated with the Lightning 12 when she came to Springfield Mercy with Factor V Leiden, a rare genetic disorder that causes severe clotting. When clotting develops in a deep vein it is known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) that can cause swelling and vein discoloration in the stomach and leg area.

Alyssa’s clotting had cut off the blood flow from the lower half of her body to her heart.

“So we knew right away she was in a pretty dire circumstance,” Dr. Stout said. “Basically it ends up with amputations of the legs and sometimes worse to include people not surviving.”

But Alyssa’s life was literally saved by that little coffee-maker-looking device, and Dr. Stout said so far things are looking “perfect” in dealing with an illness that can take a toll on many patients.

“Sometimes with this the quality of life is worse than cancer because it can lead to severe, terrible swelling and just achiness and pains,” he said.

The Lightning 12 is also being used on COVID-19 patients at Mercy because most of those who get that illness have blood clotting problems as well.

“Even if they don’t have any pre-existing clotting problems they clot their arms, legs, and multiple different areas,” Dr. Stout pointed out. “This device has allowed us to avoid surgery so we don’t have to put them on a ventilator to do an open surgical procedure like we would have had to a year ago. Generally you see improvement within 12 hours.”

What a nice stocking stuffer for Christmas!

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