Of all the unfortunate lieu to be when you discover you have a blood clot, the worst has got to be 250 miles up in the sky, zooming around the world at 17,000 km / hour aboard the International Space Station.

But in a study publicized last month in The New England Journal of Medicine , doctors detailed how they considered one such unfortunate client. The astronaut was participating in a study on vascular flow in space and did a number ultrasound search on their cervix. From the sand, doctors who received the likeness noticed that there didn’t appear to be any blood flow in the astronaut’s left jugular vein.( The case remains anonymous for privacy intellects .)

A followup ultrasound confirmed the problem: a venous thrombosis, or blood clot. It was the first one ever diagnosed in space. And it was quite the stun, because the patient was presenting no indications and have now been screened by NASA for predisposition to blood clots–and transferred. Jugular coagulates have been associated with conditions like cancer, but an unprovoked coagulate in an otherwise healthy person is uncommon.

For any patient, a blood clot could be a life-threatening discovery warranting an immediate trip to the hospital. That’s because a lump can break apart and move into the lungs, leading to potentially fatal blockages there. For an cosmonaut on the ISS, the mid-flight discovery of a clot would take on a whole new level of complexity.

NASA couldn’t exactly drawing the astronaut residence immediately; reentry seems a bit like being locked inside a bathe machine, and the ground is a bit like a automobile gate-crash. “We were very concerned that the decision simply to come home would take a patient who’s asymptomatic and “re fine” and neighbourhood them at risk of ejecting a piece of[ the coagulate] and going to the lung or elsewhere, ” says NASA flight surgeon James Pattarini, coauthor on the case study.

Luckily, the ISS carries an onboard hoard of medications, including an anticoagulant, or blood thinner. A thinner prevents the coagulate from originating and thwarts new lumps from modelling. The case began injecting it immediately–but the station had only a 40 -day supply. So on a resupply duty, the doctors sent up an oral anticoagulant, which the cosmonaut took for several months before doctors deemed it safe for them to return to Earth.

Within exactly 10 eras of the astronaut arriving back on tract, the lump had disappeared. Because this patient wasn’t at risk for blood clots in the first place, and because it went away formerly they returned to Earth’s atmosphere, the study’s columnists think it has something to do with space itself. “Which genuinely nails home that it’s the microgravity situation we think is playing a significant role here, ” says Pattarini. “I think the biggest question is, if this has been appearing and it’s just something we’re going to regularly see in human spaceflight, what does that means for doing these longer exploration-class missions? ”

To learn more about the unprecedented medical situation aboard the ISS, check out our interview with Pattarini in the video above.


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