Thrombolysis - Thrombolytic Therapy | MedStar Health

Preventing cardiac events by breaking up dangerous blood clots

Thrombolysis, also known as thrombolytic therapy, is a treatment to dissolve, break up, or remove blood clots. This can be done with special medications, by physically removing the clot, or through a combination of these. Blood clots can form in or travel to arteries that bring oxygen to the heart or brain. These clots are the main cause of heart attacks and strokes. We also may use this therapy to treat severe deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.

Our Interventional Cardiology Program and Vascular and Endovascular Program offer thrombolysis for patients with clots. The experts in these programs are leaders in the mid-Atlantic region in today’s most advanced treatment of dangerous blood clots and help develop the next generation of treatments through clinical trials.

What to expect from thrombolysis

Thrombolysis often is an emergency treatment. Thrombolysis with medication is done either through an IV injection or by making an incision into a blood vessel and guiding a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to the clot site. This catheter delivers the medication directly to the clot.

The type of thrombolysis that involves physically removing a blood clot is called mechanical thrombectomy. Like thrombolysis done with medication, this involves inserting a catheter into a blood vessel and guiding it to the clot. This catheter contains a device that your doctor will use to grab the clot so it can be removed along with the catheter.


  • Angina/Chest PainAngina, sometimes called angina pectoris, is a specific type of chest pain that happens when the heart isn’t getting enough blood flow.

  • Arterial EmbolismAn arterial embolism occurs when a clot breaks free from where it was formed and travels through the artery to block blood flow in another part of the body. 

  • Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction (MI), requires emergency medical attention. A heart attack happens when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked.

  • May-Thurner Syndrome (MTS)A compression of the main vein in your left leg between the right pelvic artery and the spine. This compression can cause deep vein thrombosis or chronic venous insufficiency.

  • Venous ThrombosisVenous thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms in your veins.


  • Angiogram (Angiography): An angiogram is a special X-ray taken as a special dye is injected through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to detect blockages or aneurysms in blood vessels.

  • Carotid Duplex Ultrasound: Carotid duplex ultrasound uses Doppler and traditional ultrasound to assess blood flow in the arteries that supply blood to your brain.

  • Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan: The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.

  • Echocardiogram: An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets, and computer technology used to create images of your heart and blood vessels.

Show Next 8 of Show All

Our locations

Distance from Change locationEnter your location

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital

5601 Loch Raven Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

7503 Surratts Rd.
Clinton, MD 20735

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

201 E. University Pkwy.
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

9000 Franklin Square Dr.
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar St Mary's Hospital

25500 Point Lookout Rd.
Leonardtown, MD 20650

MedStar Harbor Hospital

3001 S. Hanover St.
Baltimore, MD 21225

MedStar Montgomery Medical Center

18101 Prince Philip Dr.
Olney, MD 20832

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Rd. NW
Washington, DC, 20007

Ask MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute

Have general questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at If you have clinically-specific questions, please contact your physician’s office.