Inari FlowTriever Procedure Saves Man’s Life

Mark Milton, a retired educator of 37 years, has enjoyed an active lifestyle. Originally from Southern California and now residing in Arkansas, he enjoys the outdoors — fishing, golfing, wine tasting and traveling with his wife.

Milton’s health took a dramatic turn in December 2019 when he suffered a stroke. He made a full recovery, but lived a sedentary lifestyle that caused several health-related issues. When Milton began struggling with sleep apnea, he decided to have a sleep study performed in February 2020.

His wife picked him up from the sleep study the next morning, only to find that Milton was struggling to walk and breathe. Additionally, he was complaining of extreme chest pain, which prompted his wife to drive him straight to the emergency room. Once he was evaluated by emergency staff, it was decided that he would be airlifted from Rogers, Arkansas to Oklahoma Heart Institute (OHI) in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Milton arrived at OHI 25 minutes later with blue gel still in his hair from the sleep apnea test the evening prior. “I begged all the nurses to wash the blue out of my hair, and they did.” Milton said. “I considered that a small victory.”

Once Milton was stabilized by OHI staff, he and his wife were introduced to vascular surgeon Adel Barkat, M.D. Barkat informed Milton he was experiencing a saddle pulmonary embolism (PE) and needed immediate intervention. Saddle pulmonary embolisms are rare and dangerous, accounting for only 2% to 5% of all PE cases. A pulmonary embolism is a blockage in the pulmonary artery that prevents blood flow to the lungs. Pulmonary embolism accounts for nearly 100,000 deaths each year in the United States and is the third leading cause of cardiovascular related death (1).

Dr. Barkat decided to treat Mark with a minimally invasive, catheter based procedure using the FlowTriever® System. “FlowTriever is a large-bore aspiration system designed specifically for the treatment of pulmonary embolism in a single-session procedure. This device rapidly removes blood clots from the lungs resulting in immediate symptom improvement” said Dr. Barkat. OHI was the first hospital in the region to utilize FlowTriever for the treatment of pulmonary embolism.

Due to the nature of this method, Milton stayed awake throughout. “Dr. Barkat did a wonderful job explaining the procedure and talked me through it the entire time,” Milton said. “He made me feel so comfortable. I am so impressed with OHI.” The procedure was successful and Milton was able to return home quickly.

With the support of his wife, Barkat and OHI staff, Milton is back to living his energetic lifestyle. His wife, a special education teacher, plans to retire soon. After she retires, they will spend time traveling in their recreational vehicle, fishing and enjoying all the nature Arkansas has to offer.

Milton’s life advice? “Enjoy life. Keep moving forward. Do a little each day.”


For more information about the FlowTriever procedure or to schedule an appointment, please call 918-592-0999.

1.     Beckman MG, Hooper WC, Critchley SE, Ortel TL. Venous thromboembolism: a public health concern. Am J Prev Med. 2010 Apr;38(4 Suppl):S495-501. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2009.12.017. PMID: 20331949