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Thrombolytic therapy for venous thromboembolism.

The role of thrombolytic therapy for venous thromboembolism remains uncertain. To date, no well-designed randomized clinical trial has shown that the benefits of thrombolysis exceed the risks for a well-defined subgroup of patients with acute pulmonary embolism. Recent reports have underscored the risks of thrombolytic therapy. The largest multinational registry of patients in whom acute pulmonary embolism had been diagnosed found that 3% of 311 patients who underwent thrombolysis for acute pulmonary embolism suffered an intracranial hemorrhage. Because of the serious risk associated with systemic thrombolysis, investigators have continued to study methods that rapidly remove venous thromboemboli while minimizing the risk. Reports of catheter fragmentation combined with thrombolysis as well as catheter-directed thrombolysis are promising, but well-designed clinical trials are needed to clarify the utility of these techniques.

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