Vascular Associates of Northern Virginia

Timely and considerate care of the arterial and venous systems.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)


Anatomy of Veins

Veins are blood vessels that carry blood from different parts of the body back to the heart.  There are different types of veins in our bodies.

Deep Veins act as the main veins which blood travels through going back to the heart.  For the most part, these veins travel side by side with arteries and carry the same name as the artery accompanying the vein.

Superficial Veins on the other hand, act like accessory veins.  They assist the deep veins in returning the blood back to the heart.  As their name indicates, they are more superficial.  Another difference is that they do not have arteries accompanying them.

Perforator Veins are veins connecting the superficial veins with the deep veins.  Normally, they allow blood to flow in one direction from the superficial veins to the deep veins.  Valves maintain this one direction flow.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT for short, is basically a blood clot in one of the deep veins.  A blood clot could form if the clotting system in the body fails to work properly.  This malfunction could lead to the thickening of the blood and eventually clotting in the vein. It could also happen if the blood flow in the vein is affected.  If there is an injury in the inner wall of the vein, it increases the chances of causing a blood clot to develop.  Also, poor blood flow in the veins, from long bed rest for example, leads to pooling of the blood in the vein and therefore increasing the change of clotting.  A DVT can occur in any deep vein, however, it is more common in the deep veins of the pelvis and legs.

Risk Factors

Some of the risk factors for developing DVT:

  • Immobility such as long bed rests, or long flights.
  • Trauma.
  • Surgery.
  • Clotting system abnormality.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Cancer.
  • A previous history of DVT.
  • Obesity.
  • Birth control pills.

Symptoms

The symptoms of a DVT depend on the size and location of the blood clot.  However, they are not reliable for the diagnosis of a DVT.  Some of these symptoms for a DVT in the legs are:

  • Persistent pain.
  • Persistent swelling.
  • Reddish or purplish discoloration of the skin.
  • Warmth sensation.

Complications

Having a DVT increases the chance of having another blood clot in the veins in the future.  Also, depending on the size and location of the blood clot, a DVT might damage the valves in the vein leading to a condition known as venous insufficiency.

In addition, a DVT can cause a dangerous and serious complication called pulmonary embolism.  In this condition, a blood clot might break off and travels in the blood stream towards the heart and then towards the lungs.  As it lodges in the lung, it might block blood flow causing pain and breathing difficulties leading to stress on the heart and lungs.  If the pulmonary embolism is large enough, it might be fatal in a short time.

Tests

If your physician is suspecting a DVT, he or she might order a vein duplex or ultrasound.  It is a simple test where gel is applied on your skin and an ultrasound machine is used to image the veins and evaluate for DVT.

Another possible test your doctor might order is a venogram.  This is an X-ray where dye is injected to allow the veins become visible.  It allows the doctor to see the anatomy of the veins and possibly a DVT if present.

Treatment

The treatment for DVT depends on each case.  It could be through taking medications, through minimally invasive procedures, or more rarely by surgery.  It is important if someone suspects having a DVT or having any of the symptoms mentioned above, to seek medical attention as soon as possible.  The physician can then discuss all the possible treatments and what he or she recommends.

 

Note:   This blog post is intended for information only.  It is not meant to replace a professional medical opinion.  If you are suspecting any medical problems, please seek professional medical attention.  If you are having an emergency, please call 911.

 

Vascular Associates of Northern Virginia, P.C.
Vascular Laboratory

Our Physicians:
Robert S. Podolsky, M.D.
Avisesh Sahgal, M.D.

One comment on “Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

  1. Pingback: Pulmonary Embolism | Vascular Associates of Northern Virginia, P.C.

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This entry was posted on December 8, 2014 by in Vascular Information and tagged , , .
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