A single whole-body scan may someday enable doctors to scan the entire body for a blood clot. This new method has been tested on rats.
To locate a blood clot, a physician may need to use three different methods: ultrasound to check the carotid arteries or legs, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the heart and computed tomography to view the lungs.
"It is a shot in the dark. Patients could end up being scanned multiple times by multiple techniques in order to locate a clot," said Peter Caravan from the Massachusetts General Hospital.
"We sought a method that could detect blood clots anywhere in the body with a single whole-body scan," he added.
A blood clot is a dangerous health situation with the potential to trigger heart attacks, strokes and other medical emergencies.
To treat a blood clot, doctors need to find its exact location.
"If a person suffers a stroke that stems from a blood clot, their risk for a second stroke skyrockets," Caravan noted.
The initial blood clot can break apart and cause more strokes if it is not quickly found and treated.
Depending on where the blood clot is located, the treatment varies -- some of them respond well to drugs, while others are better addressed with surgery.
The team is set to describe their approach at the 250th national meeting and exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) this week.