Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in a vein deep in the body. Most deep vein blood clots occur in the lower leg or thigh, but they also can occur in other parts of the body. DVT occurs when normal blood clotting is disrupted by trauma or injury, restricted mobility, cancer, major surgery, pregnancy, or a clotting disorder. The clot can travel to an artery in the lungs and block blood flow. This can damage the lungs and other organs in the body and can cause death. Once diagnosed, the condition is highly treatable with drug therapy, mechanical devices, or both.
About half of all DVT cases do not cause symptoms. When symptoms are present, they may include:
- Swelling of the leg or along a vein in the leg
- Pain or tenderness in the leg, which you may feel only when standing or walking
- Increased warmth in the area of the leg that's swollen or painful
- Red or discolored skin on the leg
Some people aren't aware of a deep vein clot until they have signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism. Signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism include:
- Unexplained shortness of breath
- Pain with deep breathing
- Coughing up blood.
- Rapid breathing and a fast heart rate
To watch a video which describes Deep Vein Thrombosis & Pulmonary Embolism by The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), please click on the link.http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/animate/flash-dvt_pe.swf
To confirm a diagnosis of DVT, your physician may order further tests, including:
- Ultrasound: Uses sound waves to create pictures of blood flowing through the arteries and veins in the affected leg.
- D-dimer blood test: Measures a substance in the blood that's released when a blood clot dissolves.
- Venography: A dye is injected into a large vein in your foot or ankle. An X-ray procedure creates an image of the veins in your legs and feet, to indicate clots.
- CT or MRI scans: Both computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can provide visual images of your veins and may show if you have a clot.
Your physician or vascular surgeon can usually treat DVT with medications or minimally invasive procedures. Rarely, surgery may be required.
Anticoagulants are the most common medicines for treating DVT. They're also known as blood thinners.
Vena Cava Filter
If drug therapy carries too high a risk or if it proves unsuccessful, your vascular surgeon may recommend a vena cava filter. The vena cava is a large vein in your abdomen that carries blood back to your heart and lungs. Usually, your vascular surgeon inserts the filter into your vena cava through a catheter placed into a leg, neck or arm vein. Vena cava filters trap the clots that break away from your leg veins before they can reach your lungs.