DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis)

Amelia Heart & Vascular Center is a respected leader in vascular medicine serving the Northern Virginia area.

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DVT is a blood clot (venous insufficiency) that forms in a vein, usually in the leg. DVT can cause pain and swelling in the affected limb and can lead to severe complications if the clot breaks free and travels to the lung (pulmonary embolism).

Symptoms

DVT usually causes pain and swelling in the affected limb. The limb may feel heavy or tender, and the skin may be warm to the touch. DVT can also cause:

  • Redness of the skin
  • Increased warmth in the affected area
  • Sudden onset of shortness of breath (if the clot has traveled to the lungs)

Risk factors

There are several risk factors for DVT, including:

  • Prolonged immobility (such as after surgery or during a long plane ride)
  • Injury to a vein (such as from a broken bone)
  • Certain medical conditions (such as cancer, heart failure, and stroke)
  • Family history of DVT
  • Obesity
  • Smoking

Complications

DVT can lead to severe complications if the clot breaks free and travels to the lungs. This is called pulmonary embolism (PE), and it can be life-threatening. DVT can also cause long-term problems, such as post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS). PTS is a condition that can occur when DVT damages the valves in the veins. This damage can cause the veins to become less elastic and more likely to develop clots in the future. PTS can cause pain, swelling, and ulcers in the affected limb.

Diagnosis

DVT is typically diagnosed with ultrasound - lower arterial ultrasound, venous ultrasound, and carotid ultrasounds. These tests use sound waves to create images of the veins and arteries, which can help doctors to identify clots. A DVT ultrasound evaluation may also include a Doppler ultrasound or segmental pressure procedure, which is used to measure blood flow. A renal duplex ultrasound may also be ordered to check for kidney damage. An echocardiogram ultrasound can also be used to see if the clot has traveled to the heart. The doctor may also require a nuclear stress test to check for heart damage.

Treatment

The treatment of DVT is aimed at preventing the formation of new blood clots, as well as preventing the existing clot from getting larger. Treatment typically involves the use of anticoagulant medications, also known as blood thinners. These medications work by helping to prevent the formation of new blood clots, as well as helping to prevent existing clots from getting larger.

Anticoagulant medications can be given intravenously (IV), orally, or both. The type of medication and the length of treatment will depend on several factors, including the individual's overall health, age, and medical history. In most cases, treatment with anticoagulants is continued for at least 3-6 months.

In some cases, additional treatments may be necessary, such as the placement of a filter in the inferior vena cava (IVC). This is a large vein that carries blood from the lower body to the heart. The filter helps to prevent clots from moving from the legs to the lungs. To alleviate symptoms, the doctor may also perform the venous ablation procedure. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the clot.

It is important to follow all instructions from your doctor during treatment for DVT. It is also important to take all medications as prescribed. Be sure to call your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your treatment.

DVT is a serious medical condition that can lead to life-threatening complications if left untreated. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of DVT, it is important to seek medical attention right away. Amelia Heart Center offers a comprehensive DVT exam that can help diagnose this condition quickly and accurately. Don't wait - contact us today for your appointment.