What is EKOS? This medical procedure saved an Irmo woman's life

A 36-year-old Irmo woman started having shortness of breath. That developed into chest pains and dizziness. A CT scan revealed a life-threatening health situation - a blood clot.
A 36-year-old Irmo woman started having shortness of breath. That developed into chest pains and dizziness. A CT scan revealed a life-threatening health situation - a blood clot.
That developed into chest pains and dizziness. A CT scan revealed a life-threatening health situation - a blood clot. Laura Harter never would have guessed she had clots in both lungs.
That developed into chest pains and dizziness. A CT scan revealed a life-threatening health situation - a blood clot. Laura Harter never would have guessed she had clots in both lungs.
That developed into chest pains and dizziness. A CT scan revealed a life-threatening health situation - a blood clot. Laura Harter never would have guessed she had clots in both lungs.
That developed into chest pains and dizziness. A CT scan revealed a life-threatening health situation - a blood clot. Laura Harter never would have guessed she had clots in both lungs.

IRMO, SC (WIS) - A 36-year-old Irmo woman started having shortness of breath. That developed into chest pains and dizziness.

A CT scan revealed a life-threatening health situation - a blood clot. Laura Harter would never have guessed she had clots in both lungs. Laura Harter enjoys the calm of working out at Chapin Yoga Center.  Her sense of peace is much greater now having recently successfully come through a very serious health scare.

"I was walking out to my car and I stopped to kneel down because I was short of breath. I couldn't walk any farther. And then I sat down at a picnic table and I passed out and I woke up surrounded by people," Harter said.

Doctors ran numerous tests and found nothing at first. Then they did an Echocardiogram and it revealed the left part of Laura's heart was inflamed. Then a CT scan revealed a pulmonary embolism. She had blood clots in her lungs.

"That does two major things. It inhibits the body's ability to exchange oxygen so she wasn't getting enough oxygen to her organs. And then the other thing, especially in her place, that pressure buildup was causing her heart to be under a great deal of strain," says Dr. Brandon Drafts of Lexington Cardiology.

He used EKOS on Laura. It's essentially a catheter placed inside the lungs that go through the clots.

"The end portion of the catheter has many side ports so that allows a clot-busting medicine to diffuse and treat the clot in many different segments. The other part of EKOS that is great is that inside that catheter you have an ultrasound core that produces ultrasound waves and that helps break up the clot to allow further penetration of the medicine in there to help dissolve the clot."

Within just a couple days, Laura felt significant relief.

"It was basically going from zero to 100.  It was much better and I could actually take a breath without it stopping right here," says Laura.

Right now, Lexington Medical Center is using the technology for pulmonary embolisms. Dr. Drafts prefers it over giving anti-clot medicine in a large dose through an IV.

"The problem with that is that the medicine goes not only to the lungs but it goes to other organs and that greatly increases the risk of bleeding.  So with EKOS you're able to target your therapy to where the clots are and avoid the other bleeding risks," says Dr. Drafts.

Dr. Drafts used the EKOS (echo s) catheters in Laura's left and right lungs to bust up the clots. It was a relatively quick success.

"You can go in, not have to have surgery and get this procedure done and be in and out of the hospital quick.

I felt, it was like night and day from when I went in there till when he was done," says Laura.

What caused the blood clots?  Doctors think the birth control pill she was taking may have increased her risk.  She'll have to be on blood thinners for a while.

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