Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Safely remove blood clots to restore your health.
What is deep vein thrombosis?
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in veins in the deep venous system. DVT usually occurs in the pelvis, thighs and calves.
DVT in the leg is the most common type of venous thrombosis. However, a clot can form anywhere in the venous system. If a part of the blood clot in the vein breaks off, it can travel all the way to the lung. This is called a pulmonary embolism (PE), a serious condition that leads to over 50,000 deaths a year in the United States. In most cases, PE is caused when part of a DVT breaks off and lodges in the lung. The term "venous thromboembolism" (VTE) describes both DVT and PE.
Long term complications from DVT can cause serious problems in the leg. DVT can cause lasting damage to affected veins, including post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS). PTS causes chronic leg pain, fatigue and swelling. In severe cases, skin ulcerations can also occur.
What are the risk factors for developing deep vein thrombosis?
Risk factors for DVT include:
- Lack of movement, causing less blood to circulate
- Pregnancy, which puts extra pressure on the veins in your pelvis and legs
- Taking birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
- Certain medical conditions that affect how your blood clots
- Family history of DVT or pulmonary embolism
- Overweight or obesity
What are the symptoms of deep vein thrombosis?
Symptoms of DVT include:
- Pain in the leg and foot
- Warmth in the leg and foot
- Tenderness and swelling of the leg and foot
- Sometimes DVT occurs without any symptoms
What should I do if I was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis?
DVT can have serious complications, so it is important to seek medical treatment if you are diagnosed with it. At VIE, we provide minimally invasive treatment options that complement, or are an alternative to, traditional medications and surgeries.
What are the treatment options for deep vein thrombosis?
The most common treatment for DVT and blood clots is medication, specifically anticoagulants (blood thinners). These blood thinners prevent clots from growing, and stop the formation of new clots. Despite this, blood thinners do not remove existing clots.
At VIE, we offer additional options that have proven to treat and remove clots, resulting in symptom relief and reduce chance of serious complications. We may use intravenous medicine to dissolve blood clots (I.e., a "clot-busting" medication), or a medical device to remove the clot. These are called thrombolytic therapy and thrombectomy. These therapies are reserved for people who have serious complications related to DVT or PE, and who have a low risk of serious bleeding as a side effect of the therapy. The response to thrombolytic therapy is best when there is a short time between the diagnosis of DVT/PE and the start of thrombolytic therapy.
Is thrombolysis and thrombectomy an alternative to surgery for deep vein thrombosis?
Yes. Our treatment options for DVT are minimally invasive surgical procedures that use a single, small incision through which catheters and medications are passed to treat the disease. This eliminates the need for a hospital stay and significantly reduces the length of a recovery period.
At VIE, will partner with you and/or your existing care team (ex: primary care, OB-GYN) to determine if you’re a candidate for deep vein thrombosis treatment.
What are the benefits of endovascular treatment of deep vein thrombosis?
In a small percentage of patients with DVT, endovascular removal of clot should be considered. By removing the blood clot and restoring normal flow, symptoms are immediately improved and the long-term complications of DVT are reduced.
How is thrombolysis performed?
A small incision is made, through which catheters and medications are passed through to treat the disease. The exact method of treatment varies depending on several factors, such as the severity and location of the disease.
Am I a deep vein thrombosis treatment candidate?
If you think you have a DVT or are diagnosed with DVT, you should seek medical treatment immediately. If you exhibit any of the listed symptoms above, as well as associate yourself with any of the risk factors, you should schedule an appointment with us to evaluate your symptoms and determine if treatment is right for you.
Here's what you can expect from your visit:
- CONSULTATION: Symptom review and health history discussion.
- IMAGING: Initial testing for a DVT is an ultrasound study of the legs. Sometimes additional testing with CT Venography is required
- TESTING: Occasionally, additional blood testing is required..
- TREATMENT PLAN: A comprehensive review of all symptoms, exams and imaging enable Dr. Wolfe and Dr. Cumming to provide definitive treatment recommendations. Ultimately, patients choose their preferred option.