Deep Vein Thrombosis
A serious condition, which occurs when a blood clot forms in a larger deep vein that runs through the muscles of the calf, is called deep vein thrombosis. DVT symptoms include pain, swelling and tenderness, as well as red and warm skin on the affected leg. Deep vein thrombosis treatment aims to prevent the clot from growing, breaking loose and causing complications. Below you can find more detailed information about DVT causes, symptoms, diagnostics services and treatment options available.
When a blood clot forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body, usually in your legs, this condition occurs. It may cause leg pain or swelling but may occur without any symptoms.
It is a serious condition because blood clots in your veins can break loose, travel through your bloodstream and get lodged in your lungs and blocking blood flow (pulmonary embolism).
Having certain medical conditions that affect how your blood clots can contribute to the development of this condition. It can also occur if you don’t move for a long time such as after surgery, following an accident or when you are confined to a hospital or nursing home bed.
Who is at risk for deep vein thrombosis?
It occurs most commonly in people who are over 50 years of age. Certain conditions can alter how your blood flows through your veins and can raise your risk of developing clots. They include:
- An injury that damages your veins
- Overweight; more pressure on the veins in your legs and pelvis
- Family history of deep vein thrombosis
- A catheter placed in a vein
- Birth control pills or undergoing hormone therapy
- Smoking (especially heavy usage)
- Seated for a long time while you’re in a car or on a plane, especially if you already have at least one other risk factor
Certain diseases and disorders can increase the chances of having blood clots such as hereditary blood clotting disorders. Especially when you have at least 1 other risk factor. Other factors such as cancer and inflammatory bowel disease can also increase the risk. Heart failure makes it more difficult for your heart to pump blood also occurs with an increased risk of clots.
Sometimes, there may be no symptoms at all. If you are experiencing symptoms, they can include:
- Pain, swelling and tenderness in one of your legs (normally your calf)
- A heavy ache in the affected area
- Warm skin in the area of the clot
- Red skin (particularly at the back of your leg below the knee)
Deep vein thrombosis affects one leg (even though not always). Your may experience worse pain if you bend your foot upward towards your knee.
DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS TREATMENT OPTIONS
The treatments goal is to focus on preventing the clot from growing. Treatment will also attempt to prevent a pulmonary embolism and lower the risks of having more clots.
Medications to thin your blood such as heparin and warfarin may be prescribed to make it harder for your blood to clot. It also help to keep existing clots as small as possible and decreases the risk of developing more clots.
Your doctor might use thrombolytic drugs if blood thinners don’t work or if you have a severe case of deep vein thrombosis. The drugs work by breaking up clots and you’ll receive these intravenously.
These help to prevent swelling associated with deep vein thrombosis. They are worn on your legs from your feet to about the level of your knees.
The pressure reduces the chances that your blood will pool and clot. These stockings should be worn during the day for at least 2 to 3 years if possible. Compression stockings can help to prevent postphlebitic syndrome.
A filter may be put inside the large abdominal vein (vena cava) if you aren’t able to take blood thinners. It helps to prevent pulmonary embolisms by preventing clots from entering your lungs.
DIAGNOSING DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS
- History taking and physical examination: A series of questions about your symptoms will be asked. A physical exam will also be performed so that your doctor can check for any areas of swelling, tenderness or discoloration on your skin. Your doctor may suggest further testing depending on how likely you are to have a blood. clot.
- Ultrasound: A wand-like device is placed over the part of your body where there’s a clot. As sound waves travel through your tissue and reflect back, a moving image is transferred on a video screen. A clot may be visible in the image. A series of ultrasounds are sometimes done over several days. This is to determine whether a blood clot is growing or to be sure a new one hasn’t developed.
- Blood test: Most people with severe deep vein thrombosis have an elevated blood level of a clot-dissolving substance known as D dimer.
- Venography: A dye is injected into a large vein in your foot or ankle. An image of the veins in your legs and feet is taken with X-ray to look for clots. That said, there are less invasive methods of diagnosis such as ultrasound can normally confirm the diagnosis.
- CT or MRI scans:Provide visual images of your veins and may reveal if you have a clot. A clot is sometimes found when these scans are performed for other reasons.