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An embolectomy is an emergency invasive procedure to remove life threatening clots. It is generally a procedure of last resort when pharmaceuticals have failed to break up a clot. Because of the danger of the procedure, it usually is only considered when necrosis is imminent. There are three basic procedures that can be used:
- A balloon embolectomy, where a catheter is inserted into the blood vessel which is then pushed past the clot and inflated. The balloon is then withdrawn and takes the clot with it.
- An aspiration embolectomy, where suction is used to draw out the clot. This is the preferred procedure when the clot is in an arm or leg.
- A surgical embolectomy, where an incision is made into the effected blood vessel.
The mortality rate for the procedure is highly dependent on the size and location of the clot, but an average of 20% of patients do not survive the procedure for one reason or another.