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.
An IVC filter inserted into the vena cava, one of the body’s largest veins, can also be a treatment option to prevent a clot from moving into your lungs.
If you have a large blood clot causing severe symptoms, thrombolytic therapy (clot-busting drugs) may be given through an IV to quickly destroy the clot. Clot-busting drugs are often used to dissolve blood clots that are blocking major arteries or veins (such as pulmonary embolism).