(Lynwood, CA – June 16, 2022) – Gasping for breath and scared for her life, Lynwood resident Deborah Williams was in critical condition when she was rushed to St Francis Medical Center, a member of Prime Healthcare, where she faced a frightening diagnosis: pulmonary embolism (PE) – a large and potentially deadly blood clot in her lung.
She had been feeling off for over a month, visiting several community and academic hospitals with worsening symptoms. Now in the St. Francis ER, her breaths were shallow. Her oxygen was plummeting to dangerous levels.
It was then that Williams, 69, became among the first patients in St. Francis’ Southeast Los Angeles service area to undergo a minimally invasive procedure using the new Inari Medical FlowTriever, an advanced system whereby a flexible tube called a catheter is maneuvered toward the clots through a small skin puncture to engage and remove them in a single session. The process is completed without anesthesia, clot-busting medicines, or mandatory ICU admission.
“This procedure is transformative for the treatment of large blood clots in the lungs and legs,” said Shailender Bhatia, MD, Vascular and Interventional Radiologist at St. Francis. “Pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis, collectively venous thromboembolism (VTE), is the third most common cause of heart-related death in the US, behind heart attack and stroke. VTE affects about a million Americans annually with a composite mortality rate of 30% — a statistic that’s remained virtually unchanged for 50-60 years,” continued Bhatia.
In approximately an hour, St. Francis interventional radiologists Rajesh Bhavsar, MD, and Jason Deutsch, MD, successfully removed 95% of the enormous blood clots from Williams’ lungs. By the time the access site was closed with a small stitch, Williams’ breaths deepened as her oxygen levels soared to normal levels. Her heart and lungs resumed normal function almost immediately.
“Until this technology became available, up to 90% of patients just like her would go home on blood-thinners alone, which only prevent new clots from forming,” explained Bhavsar. “Others were treated with thrombolytic (clot-busting) medicine that carry high bleed risks, like bleeds in the brain.”
“I’m so grateful to the St. Francis Medical Center team for saving my life,” Williams said. “The doctors were so kind and explained the procedure. I was comfortable and alert during the procedure and have good memories of talking with the team. I received excellent care, better than any other place.”
Cath Lab and Interventional Radiology Manager Kellye Davis, MSN, RN, CVRN-BC, coordinates the comprehensive VTE Program at St. Francis Medical Center. She recalls when PE was a virtual death sentence until the Inari technology became available. “It’s a true blessing to work at a hospital committed to offering the latest technology to serve patients within the community,” said Davis. “The Inari procedure is just one example of the many advanced cutting-edge medical techniques available at St. Francis.”
Dr. Bhatia was an early proponent of the Inari Medical FlowTriever, recognizing the system’s significant patient care benefits. Designed to remove blood clots through both mechanical and aspiration mechanisms, the process is designed to eliminate the need for thrombolytic drugs or blood thinners and effectively keeps patients out of the intensive care unit.
St. Francis CEO Lawrence Barnard felt strongly about bringing this technology to the community and to building a blood clot program at the hospital. “The Inari system lays the foundation for a regional VTE response team to complement the hospital’s existing Stroke and STEMI (heart attack) programs,” said Barnard. “VTE, Stroke and STEMI are blood-clot conditions, as well as PE and DVT which are caused by larger clots and are just as devastating. St. Francis Medical Center and Prime Healthcare are committed to investing in technology that ensures this community has access to advanced treatments that enable patients to regain health and the best quality of life possible.”
Ms. Williams is now feeling great. “I felt back to 100% in just a couple of days,” she said. According to her family, she is in high spirits and enjoying full meals again with a big, beautiful smile on her face.