Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) refers to the development of a blood clot (thrombus), which causes partial or total blockage of blood flow in a deep vein. Pain, swelling or redness in the limb may result.
Symptoms of DVT
- Pain, swelling or tenderness in the limb
- An abnormal flush or redness of the skin
- A bluish discoloration of the skin
- Suspected pulmonary embolus (see symptoms of pulmonary embolus)
Causes & Risk Factors of DVT
- Recent trauma or surgery
- Prior history of DVT
- Prolonged bed rest or other instances of extended inactivity, such as a long car or plane ride
- Oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy
- Family history of DVT, or blood clotting disorder
- Active cancer and some cancer treatments
- Disorders that involve increased blood clotting
Unlike superficial thrombophlebitis, a blood clot the deep veins poses a greater medical risk since there is the possibility that it might break off and travel to the lungs and become lodged in one of the pulmonary arteries. This is called pulmonary embolism (PE).
If the pulmonary embolus is large, it can be fatal, whereas a smaller embolism may even go unnoticed. The risk of pulmonary embolism is reduced by prompt recognition and treatment of DVT.
- Sudden onset of chest pain
- Unexplained shortness of breath
- Unexplained rapid heart rate
- Unexplained low-grade fever
Duplex ultrasound is a non-invasive exam accurately diagnoses DVT. Your healthcare provider then can decide the course of treatment.
Blood thinners (also called anticoagulants) are the most common type of treatment for DVT, used to prevent the clot from growing or breaking off.
Post Phlebitic Syndrome
Over time, your body will dissolve the clot, but there may be some damage to the valves of the deep vein affected. The valves can be destroyed resulting in persistent leg swelling and pain. Other symptoms include leg itchiness, dryness and eventually skin ulceration as a result of prolonged venous hypertension. This is known as post phlebitic syndrome.