Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot develops in the large, deep veins of the pelvis, legs, thighs, or arms.
This is a serious condition in which a deep vein – one that cannot be seen – becomes partially or completely blocked by a blood clot (thrombus), which forms most often in the lower leg or thigh. The situation becomes life-threatening if the blood clot breaks loose and lodges in the lungs, where it is known as a pulmonary embolism. There, it can cause shortness of breath and chest pain, and may result in sudden death due to a lack of circulation.
Some 300,000 first-time incidences of DVT occur every year in the United States.
Symptoms of DVT include pain, swelling, warmth, and redness in the leg – or you may experience no symptoms. Long periods of inactivity (such as after air travel or during bed rest recovery from major surgery) may contribute to the formation of DVT blood clots.
Diagnostic tests typically used in cases of suspected DVT include:
- D-dimer blood test measures the amount of substance in the blood that occurs when a blood clot dissolves in the body. High levels may indicate the presence of DVT.
- Duplex ultrasound, also known as a vascular ultrasound, uses sound waves to create images of the veins. In a duplex ultrasound, that technology is combined with the ability to measure moving objects, such as blood flow, to determine its speed and other characteristics.
- Venography is an X-ray of the leg with the use of an injected contrast dye to identify whether blood flow in the vein is slower than normal. A venography may be called for if an ultrasound doesn’t allow for a clear diagnosis.
Medications such as blood thinners are the treatment of choice for deep vein thrombosis. It is important to note that while blood thinners help prevent the formation of blood clots, these medicines do not break up blood clots that have already formed. Most blood clots dissolve within the body over time.
For more information, please contact the vascular and cardiology healthcare professionals at Premier Vein & Vascular by calling 1-888-VEINCARE or use our convenient online form to request an appointment. We look forward to serving you at our offices in Tampa and Largo, Florida.