Deep vein thrombosis, also known as DVT, is a condition where a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of the body. It is most commonly seen in the veins of the thigh and lower legs.
Acute (new) DVT can be a dangerous condition, because it can lead to a potentially life threatening condition known as pulmonary embolus (which is when clot breaks free from its source and travels to the heart and lungs). DVT can also damage the valves of the veins. If the valves become damaged, several months to years after formation of the DVT, venous insufficiency can develop, with resultant pain, swelling of the legs, varicose vein formation, and possible eventual formation of venous ulcers.
Symptoms of DVT
Many patients with DVT may not know they have the condition, because it often presents with absolutely no symptoms. Patients that do exhibit DVT symptoms may experience the following:
- Swelling of the lower leg, ankle and foot
- Warmth around the affected area
- Skin color changes in the affected area
- Pain in the leg that often feels like cramping
Patients who begin to experience any of these symptoms should see their doctor for an accurate diagnosis. If the cause can be traced to DVT, there are a number of treatment options available to reduce the clot and minimize the risk of more serious complications.
Treatment for DVT
Traditional treatment for DVT involves reducing further growth of the clot and minimizing the risk that the clot will break free and travel to the lungs. Patients are usually prescribed a blood-thinning medication like Heparin or Warfarin to prevent the clot from growing or additional clots from forming. Compression stockings are also worn to promote healthy blood flow and prevent additional clotting.
If the clot is determined to be more serious, a thrombolytic drug may be administered by IV to dissolve the blood clot. If a patient cannot take a blood-thinning medication or thrombolytic based on their medical history, a filter may also be placed in the large vein in the abdomen (the inferior vena cava) to prevent clots from making their way through the bloodstream to the lungs.
DVT is a serious medical condition that should be addressed by a vein specialist. If you are concerned about DVT, contact our staff at Beach Cities Vein to schedule a complete evaluation and learn more about your treatment options.