Deep vein thrombosis is a condition that can occur when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins in the legs. The deep veins are located under the connective tissue fascia of the leg, which holds the muscles together in a compact compartment or envelope. On the contrary, the superficial veins are located ‘on top of’ or superficial to the fascia and under the skin. DVT can sometimes cause swelling or pain in the legs, but sometimes there are no noticeable symptoms. Any medical condition that increases your likelihood for getting blood clots will also predispose you to developing DVT.
Deep vein thrombosis can be serious because blood clots in the veins can break loose. The clots can then travel through the bloodstream and get stuck in the lungs, blocking blood flow and oxygen transfer to the blood – this can be life-threatening. So if you have any questions about how deep vein thrombosis is treated or prevented, read on to learn more about this condition.
Diagnosis is often made by your doctor or vascular surgeon, who would order some tests to assist with the diagnosis. This may include:
- Duplex ultrasound. This noninvasive test uses sound waves to create pictures of how blood flows through the veins. It’s the standard test for diagnosing DVT as it is painless and easy to complete
- CT Venography. This test uses X-rays and dye to create a picture of the veins in the legs and abdomen or chest. It helps to show which blood vessels have clot in them.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. This test may be done to diagnose DVT in veins of the body similar to CT scans, but does not require radiation. It is not as easily accessible as CT scans.
There are many factors that can increase your risk of DVT so it is best to determine how many of these factors affect you and meet with a vascular surgeon in Melbourne if you have any concerns:
- Though it can affect those of any age, your risk of DVT increases with increasing age.
- Lack of movement If you spend a lot of time sitting still, either at work or during travel such as on a plane or in a car, then you will increase the risk of developing blood clots.
- Injury to the veins causes a local inflammatory response and can cause clots in that area.
- Surgery increases the risk of blood clots due to several factors, including lack of movement, changes in blood levels and changes in the body’s physiology during and after surgery.
- Pregnancy increases the pressure in the veins in the pelvis and legs. The risk of blood clots from pregnancy can continue for up to six weeks after a baby is born.
- Birth control pills (oral contraceptives) or hormone replacement therapy.Both can increase the blood’s ability to clot.
- A personal or family history of DVT.If you or someone in your family has had this condition previously, you might be at greater risk of developing DVT as it can be genetic.
- Being overweight or obese.Being overweight increases the pressure in the veins in the pelvis and legs which increases risk of clots.
- Some cancers increase substances in the blood that cause the blood to clot. Some types of cancer treatment also increase the risk of blood clots.
DVT treatment options include:
- medications called anticoagulants that are designed to thin your blood
- compression stockings
- elevating your affected legs at different times throughout the day.
- In a minority of cases, when the DVT is extensive, invasive treatments may be required.
Here are how each of these treatments work:
- Blood thinners. These medicines, also called anticoagulants, help prevent blood clots from getting bigger and reduce the risk of developing more clots but making your blood thinner and less prone to clotting. Your body may naturally dissolve a clot, but sometimes clots don’t completely disappear. When they don’t, they usually shrink inside your veins. In some cases these clots may result in leg swelling, but oftentimes they don’t cause symptoms. Blood thinners may be taken by mouth or given by an injection under the skin.
- Clot busters/thrombolytics. These drugs are used for more-serious types of DVT, or if other medications aren’t working. Clot busters are given by injecting them into the blood stream or through a tube placed directly into the clot. The thrombolytics will dissolve the clot and allow blood to flow freely again.
- compression stockings.These special knee socks help prevent blood from pooling in the legs. They also help to reduce leg swelling. Many people will wear compression stockings when on a long haul flight as the extended time spent sitting can increase the risk of clots. After treatment for DVT, a vascular surgeon in Melbourne will often recommended wearing compression stockings while you are still healing.
If you have any concerns or questions regarding deep vein thrombosis, or you are worried that you may be experiencing some of the relevant symptoms, get in contact with a vascular surgeon in Melbourne who will be able to assess your situation and recommended the best dvt treatment for you.
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