OBJECTIVE--Major thromboses can occur in the venous system in association with central venous catheters. This usually necessitates removal of the catheter. METHODS--The effectiveness of low dose recombinant tissue type plasminogen activator (rt-PA) in combination with heparin was assessed in patients with central venous catheter associated thrombosis. RESULTS--In five patients, all suffering from cancer, a 5-7 day continuous infusion resulted in complete lysis of the thrombus without complications in three. In the other two patients moderately severe haemorrhage was observed with only partial lysis, of the thrombus. CONCLUSIONS--The infusion of heparin and rt-PA is potentially effective in thrombosis related to use of central venous catheters, but the risk of haemorrhage is not inconsiderable.
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