Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a medical emergency that occurs when blood clot develops in a deep vein (the veins that run through the muscles). Although the clot may form anywhere inside the body, it is most commonly known to occur in the lower leg, thigh or pelvis.

DVT can potentially be fatal in case of delay or absence of immediate medical care. The clot may break free and travel through the bloodstream, where it can become lodged in the blood vessels of the lung (known as a pulmonary embolism).

DVT can also lead to complications in the legs in long-term. This is referred to as chronic venous insufficiency or the post-thrombotic syndrome. This condition is characterized by lipodermatosclerosis, chronic leg swelling, and leg ulcers.

DVT most commonly occurs in just one leg. The common DVT symptoms include:

  1. Swelling of the leg
  2. Pain in the calf or thigh
  3. Redness or discoloration of the skin
  4. Enlargement of the superficial veins in the affected leg

Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include:

  1. Shortness of breath
  2. Sharp chest pain and back pain
  3. Cough with or without bloody sputum
  4. Excessive sweating
  5. Rapid pulse
  6. Light-headedness or passing out
  1. Inherited blood clotting disorder
  2. Family history of DVT
  3. May-Thurner Syndrome / Iliac Vein Compression
  4. Cancer
  5. Prolonged immobilization such as long period of time in a car or an aeroplane
  6. Immobility after surgery or a serious injury
  7. Pregnancy
  8. Being overweight
  9. Birth control pills or hormone therapy
  10. Varicose veins
  1. History and physical examination
  2. Venous duplex ultrasound scan is the most common test used to diagnose DVT
  3. CT scan or MRI scan may be performed to assess the extent of clot in the abdomen or if pulmonary embolism is suspected.
  4. Special blood tests to exclude blood clotting disorder especially if there is no obvious reason for the clot to develop.

Swelling in Leg and Deep Vein Thrombosis

Depending on your condition, you may be admitted to the hospital for treatment, or you may receive treatment as an outpatient.

Treatments include anticoagulation, compression stockings and elevation of the affected leg.

In patients with symptomatic extensive DVT especially involving iliac/ pelvic veins, more definitive interventions to remove the clot in acute setting may be required with the aims to prevent the clot from breaking off and moving to the lungs (Pulmonary embolism) and toprevent long-term complications to the leg i.e.chronic venous insufficiency

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