Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is caused by a blood clot in a deep vein and can be life-threatening.
The condition occurs when your blood thickens into a clump that becomes solid, forming a clot. DVT requires prompt attention, because if a piece of the clot breaks off, it can travel to the lungs and make breathing difficult, or even result in death.
Symptoms may include swelling, pain, and tenderness, often in the legs. Risk factors include immobility(ex. after hip or knee surgery), hormone therapy, and pregnancy. When a blood clot forms in a vein deep inside your body, it causes what doctors call deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This is most likely to happen in your lower leg, thigh, or pelvis. But it can occur in other parts of your body, too. Not everyone with DVT shows symptoms. But you might notice any of the following:
Leg or arm swelling that comes on without warning
Pain or soreness when you stand or walk
Warmth in the area that hurts
Skin that looks red or blue
To diagnose deep vein thrombosis, your vascular surgeon will ask about your symptoms, and check for any areas of swelling, tenderness or discoloration on your skin.
Depending on how likely you are to have a blood clot, your doctor may suggest further testing with an ultrasound.
Occasionally the surgeon may recommend alternative tests such as a CT scan, MRI or venography, in which dye is injected into a large vein of the foot or ankle, and X-rays are taken to look for clots.
Your doctor will want to stop the blood clot from getting bigger or breaking off and heading toward your lungs. She’ll also want to cut your chances of getting another DVT. This can be done in one of three ways:
1.) Medicine. Blood thinners are the most common medications used to treat DVT. They cut your blood’s ability to clot. You may need to take them for 6 months to 1 year. If your symptoms are severe or your clot is very large, your doctor may give you a strong medicine to dissolve it. These medications, called thrombolytics, have serious side effects like sudden bleeding.
2.) Catheter-based procedures involve passing a small tube (catheter) through a small incision in the groin to the clot site. Your doctor uses special instruments to break up or remove the clot. The procedure may also involve injecting a clot-dissolving medication through the catheter (thrombolysis). Your doctor may also use a device to manual remove the clot from the vessel. This is known as a Mechanical thrombectomy, or simply thrombectomy. This catheter procedure involves removing a blood clot (thrombus) from a blood vessel.
3.) Open surgery involves making a large incision in the area of the blood clot through the blood vessel to remove it. Open surgery allows your surgeon to directly view and access the surgical area. Open surgery generally involves a longer recovery and more pain than catheter surgery because it requires cutting and displacement of muscle and other tissues. Open surgery is becoming less common.
Also in addition to the above, an Inferior vena cava (IVC) filter may need to be placed. Your doctor may insert a small, temporary cone-shaped filter inside your inferior vena cava. That’s the largest vein in your body. The filter can catch a large clot before it reaches your lungs.
Compression stockings may also be ordered to help manage. These special socks are very tight at the ankle and get looser as they reach your knee. This pressure prevents blood from pooling in your veins. You can buy some types at the drugstore. But your doctor may prescribe a stronger version that must be fitted by an expert.
Your doctor will advise you on which procedure is best for you based on your diagnosis, age, medical history, and general health.