Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Bloomfield Vein & Vascular
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Deep Vein Thrombosis, or DVT, is a condition that develops when the blood flow in one of the main, deep veins of the body clogs. It typically happens in the veins of the legs, or in those veins just above the groin, called the iliac veins. These clots tend to cause leg pain, swelling and difficulty walking.
Factors that contribute to developing DVTs:
Blood clots develop when a combination of factors are present that lead to blood pooling and eventually when the flow is slow enough, to formation of a clot. Typically, the main causes tend to be surgery involving a general or spinal anesthetic, immobility, cancer, and long periods of traveling (like during a long flight, for example). There are sometimes certain elements inside your blood stream that can predispose you to this problem as well.
At Bloomfield Vein & Vascular, we have an extensive experience managing patients with DVT. As such, we now believe that patients who develop lower extremity DVTs, including those that involve the veins above the groin, tend to have an element of iliac vein compression (see our section on May-Thurner syndrome). Unless this anatomical problem is dealt with, your risk of developing new clots remains high.
- If you experience sudden leg swelling, particularly if it only involves one side, and this swelling is associated with pain or discomfort, seek medical attention. The initial treatment of DVTs always involves the use of an anticoagulant, or blood thinner, to prevent the clot from growing or from moving. The anticoagulant doesn’t break the clot, your body eventually does that, but it does prevent the clot from getting worse.
- In occasional circumstances, the clot can break and end up in your lungs, a condition known as a Pulmonary Embolism, or PE. This tends to be associated with sudden onset of shortness of breath and/or chest pain. Seek urgent medical attention if that is the case.
- Long term complications can arise from a DVT, even if it has been properly treated with blood thinners. Typically, the affected extremity remains swollen, feels achy and heavy, and can develop skin color changes and in some cases, may lead to wounds. In the past, patients were told that the only option for treatment was anticoagulation; that is not the case anymore. If you have a history of lower extremity DVTs, let us evaluate you and provide you with options to prevent long term consequences of this condition that may lead to wounds. This is known as Post-Thrombotic or Post-Phlebitic syndrome.
- The initial phase of treatment always includes anticoagulation. We can help you determine the length of time that you need to be treated, using lab work to guide our treatment.
- We also recommend the use of compression stockings. However, not everyone is able to use these types of stockings. We can guide you regarding options to ensure that compression remains a viable option for you.
- Correction of the anatomical problems. Ultimately, we do feel that this should be the mainstay of treatment. Do not let any other physician tell you that nothing can be done to help your leg feel better. Let the experts at Bloomfield Vein & Vascular evaluate you and provide you with options so that you do not have to suffer from the consequences of a previous DVT.
- Clot removal, or mechanical thrombectomy: sometimes clots can be treated by removing them. At Bloomfield Vein & Vascular, we have the experience and expertise to deal with this problem. If you have been discharged from the hospital after suffering a DVT, there are options to treat your clot.
The above pictures show a patient who presented to our office with a LEFT lower extremity DVT and was told that her only treatment option was being on a blood thinner. After a thorough evaluation, we were able to safely remove the clot and restore normal flow within her lower extremity. She is no longer burdened by the significant swelling and symptomatology that she had developed with the initial DVT.