Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms, usually in the leg veins, when your blood flow becomes very slow.
DVT Symptoms and Diagnosis
DVT can occur without any symptoms. However, many people with DVT experience discomfort around or along the vein that has been affected, including pain and swelling, redness, and warmth in the area.
Causes of DVT include:
- Long periods of inactivity — sitting on a long flight or car trip, or being on bed rest for an extended period of time.
- Cancer and other diseases or genetic conditions that cause your blood to clot more easily.
- Damage to a vein from a catheter or PICC line
- Medications, especially hormonal medications
It is necessary to seek prompt treatment if you think you have developed DVT. If a piece of a blood clot breaks off, it can travel through your bloodstream to your lung and cause a blockage (pulmonary embolism).
Tests your doctor may recommend to help diagnose DVT include:
- Ultrasound of the affected area
- Blood test called a D-dimer
DVT Treatment at BIDMC
The main treatment for DVT is blood thinning medication, which helps keep blood clots from getting larger and decreases your blood’s ability to clot. Over time, the blood thinners can help decrease the size of a blood clot.
In some circumstances, a separate procedure may be performed to place a catheter into the blocked vein so clot-busting drugs can be delivered directly to the clot (catheter-directed thrombolysis) and/or devices can be used to break up and suck out the clot. This may help you feel better more quickly.
IVC Filter Placement
If blood thinning medication cannot be given for other medical reasons, an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter may be placed to prevent large blood clots in the legs from traveling to the lungs. The filter is placed through a pinhole in a vein in the neck or groin without the need for surgery and positioned under x-ray guidance in the large abdominal vein that returns blood from the legs back to the heart.
These filters are often retrievable and once no longer needed, consultation with your interventional specialist is recommended to evaluate for removal.