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deep veinthrombosis

overview

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot, called a thrombus, forms in a vein deep inside your body. The clot limits blood flow or blocks it completely. Blood clots most often form in your pelvis, thigh or lower leg, but they can develop in any deep vein.

These clots can break free and travel to the arteries in your lungs, causing a life-threatening blockage called a pulmonary embolism

You’re more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis if you:

  • Are over 60 
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Are pregnant or recently gave birth
  • Are receiving certain cancer treatments
  • Don’t move for a long time because of travel, illness or surgery
  • Have a central venous catheter to receive medication 
  • Have vein damage from surgery, trauma or an autoimmune condition 
  • Smoke
  • Take birth control pills or hormone therapy

symptoms

Deep vein thrombosis doesn’t always cause symptoms, but it can trigger: 

  • Leg ulcers
  • Pain, inflammation or warmth in one of your legs
  • Redness or discoloration of the skin on one of your legs
  • Swelling in one leg or along one leg vein

diagnosis

To diagnose deep vein thrombosis, your doctor will do a physical exam and may recommend diagnostic tests,  such as a CT (computed tomography) scan, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), an ultrasound or an X-ray.

services & treatment

Treatment depends on the severity of your condition. In general, doctors aim to prevent:

  • A pulmonary embolism
  • Damage to nearby tissue
  • The clot from getting larger and other clots from forming 

Your doctor will discuss which treatment options are right for you. This may include wearing compression stockings and elevating your feet whenever possible. Sometimes, however, medication or surgery may be necessary. Surgery generally means inserting a vena cava filter into the vein. The filter can help catch blood clots before they travel to the lungs.

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