Deep vein thrombosis (dvt, a venous blood clot)

Legs | Orthopaedics | Deep vein thrombosis (dvt, a venous blood clot) (Disease)


In the leg there are two types of veins: superficial veins and deep veins. Superficial veins lie just below the skin and are easily seen on the surface. Deep veins, as their name implies, are located deep within the muscles of the leg. Blood flows from the superficial veins into the deep venous system through small perforator veins. Superficial and perforator veins have one-way valves within them that allow blood to flow only in the direction of the heart when the veins are squeezed.

The symptoms of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) may include:

(1) Pain and tenderness in the leg

(2) Pain on extending the foot

(3) Swelling of the lower leg, ankle and foot

(4) Skin that is red and warm.

Causes and Risk factors

A patient that suffers from deep venous thrombosis has a blood clot in a vein, usually in the leg. Thrombosis is a term used to describe the formation of a blood clot. A deep venous thrombosis is a blood clot that forms in a large, deep vein of the leg, thigh or pelvis. Rarely, a deep venous thrombosis can form in the arms. Factors that can lead to deep venous thrombosis include hip fracture, hip surgery, prolonged bedrest, and periods of prolonged sitting in one place.

A thrombosis is a blood clot. The clot may block a blood vessel, causing potentially serious health effects. A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of the leg. A deep vein thrombosis in the thigh carries a risk of pulmonary embolism. This occurs when the clot, or thrombus, loses its attachment to the inside of the vein, leaves the leg and lodges in the pulmonary artery, the main blood vessel to the lungs. If the clot is large enough, it can completely block that artery and cause death.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Treatment for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) -- a blood clot deep in a vein -- ranges from medication to self-care to surgery.

There is more than one goal of treatment for deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The goals include: preventing a clot from growing, preventing a clot from breaking off and traveling to the lung or other organ, avoiding long-lasting complications, such as leg pain and swelling, preventing blood clots from recurring...