Deep Vein Thrombosis Overview
Deep vein thrombosis is a condition where a blood clot (thrombus) forms in a deep vein. While this can occur in any vein, it is most typical in the legs, usually in the calf and thigh.
In the U.S. the occurrence of deep vein thrombosis of legs or lungs is 350,000-600,000 people affected.
Deep vein thrombosis differs from blood clots in superficial veins, which can lead to inflammation and discomfort in that it progresses to serious problems. Read more in this deep vein thrombosis patient education guide.
- An area radiating heat
- A tender area
- Redness or red streak
- Ache or pain on ambulation
Causes of deep vein thrombosis:
- Inactivity e.g. bedridden, long car or plane trips
- Change to veins post surgery
- Injury to blood vessels
- Familial tendency
Doctors Who Treat Deep Vein Thrombosis
Throughout your care for deep pain thrombosis, you may encounter the following team of doctors, specialists, and other health professionals listed in this patient education guide.
- Hematologist – deals with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of blood, blood conditions and blood disorders. This type of physician is adept at diagnosing and treating blood clots within all the vessels of the circulatory system.
- Internists - specializes on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses in adults. This doctor will examine and diagnose a thrombosis.
- Nurse Practitioner - focuses on prevention, wellness and education of patients about health and health choices.
- Family Physician (General Practitioner) – deals with prevention, discovery and treatment of illnesses in all age categories. The doctor may examine and diagnose thrombosis. Further treatment may be done or a referral given at this point to the hematologist.
How to Prepare for Your Doctor Visit for Deep Vein Thrombosis
Now that you have an upcoming appointment with a healthcare provider about your deep vein thrombosis, what can you do to get the most out of it? Read more in this patient education guide.
Compile a list of:
- Family history
- Significant past medical history
- Any lab results in possession from the last year
- Record of pain and when it occurred
Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Deep Vein Thrombosis
From your initial diagnosis throughout your treatment and care, you will have questions about deep vein thrombosis. This patient education guide lists questions to discuss with your doctor so you can make informed decisions about your condition.
Questions About My Diagnosis
- Can this diagnosis be confused with other conditions?
- What causes blood clots and is there a difference between clots in the arteries and veins?
- What tests would confirm this diagnosis?
- Will this condition reoccur?
- Am I at a higher risk for reoccurrence?
- Am I in danger of developing emboli in other body areas?
- Can this condition be fatal?
- Does this reflect a heart condition?
- Can I prevent blood clots from reoccurring?
Questions About My Treatment
- Is there medication that can cure my condition?
- What can I take or do to make me asymptomatic?
- Is there physical activity or exercise to improve this?
- Will wrapping my leg improve the problem?
- How long will it be before my symptoms go away
Questions About My Lifestyle and Family
- Does this run in families?
- Will I need to keep my leg elevated?
- Will I be able to drive?
- Will I be able to work?
- Are there activities that I should avoid?
- Will I have to avoid long car rides or plane rides?
Common Tests or Labs to Diagnose Deep Vein Thrombosis
The first approach to diagnosing deep vein thrombosis is a thorough examination and a review with the patient regarding onset of symptoms, and what activities makes the symptoms worse. After a presumptive examination, the following tests can be done.
|Ultrasound (sonogram)||Enables visualization of blood flow (with colors on the monitor) and the blood vessels themselves.||After lying down on the table, the technician places clear water-based gel on your leg in the affected area. A hand-held probe is then moved back and forth over the area, transmitting sound waves. The echoes of these waves creates an image on a computer monitorAs blood flows through the veins and arteries, a color emanates showing activity on the computer monitor.||No tumors, cysts or obstructions within the vessels and a normal blood flow through the vessels.|
|Venogram||Visualizes any obstructions to the blood flow in the veins (of extremities, pelvis, to heart and from kidneys)||After lying down on the X-ray table, contrast material (a special dye) is injected into the veins. A series of X-rays are then taken to capture blood flow through the veins in a specific area of the body.||No abnormal blood flow and no displacement of medical devices like filters. It also shows normal valves within the vessels.|
Common Medications and Treatments for Deep Vein Thrombosis
There are several ways to treat deep vein thrombosis to ensure that the clot does not get bigger or break loose to cause a pulmonary embolism.
The following medications or treatments might be prescribed.
How/Why it Works
|Anticoagulants(blood thinners)||Anticoagulants are administered intravenously or in pill form for 3 months to stifle clot growth, while the body starts to absorb and shrink the clot|
|Leg elevation||Encourages blood flow back to the heart and cuts down on leg swelling|
|Compression stockings||Helps blood flow and diminishes swelling|
|Vena Cava filter||Used rarely, a tube is inserted in the vena cava to facilitate blood return to the heart and stops clots traveling to the lungs|
|Nonsteroidal pain medication (NSAIDs)||Gives symptomatic relief and decreases swelling. This does not treat the implants but improves daily functioning|
|Warm baths/heating pad||Decreases discomfort by relaxing the muscles and also helps encourage blood flow with clot shrinkage|