What is a DVT?
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is an abnormal formation of a clot (thrombus) in the veins of the leg, thigh, or pelvis. DVT can be a serious condition because blood clots in veins can break off and travel to the arteries of the lung. Known as pulmonary embolism (PE), this obstruction of the lung arteries makes it difficult to take in oxygen and can cause death. PE accounts for approximately 100,000 deaths per year in the United States.
We spoke to board-certified physician and expert in treating venous insufficiency (improper functioning of the vein valves in the leg) Neal Reynolds, MD, FACS, to find out more about DVT, it’s symptoms, causes, and treatment. Dr. Reynolds partners with Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) and practices in Columbia, South Carolina.
Understanding how to recognize the signs of DVT and how you can get an immediate evaluation and treatment for this dangerous vein disorder can mean the difference between life and death.
Why Does the Blood Clot (Thrombus) Form?
According to Dr. Reynolds, DVT usually occurs after prolonged immobility, injury, surgery, or illness but sometimes occur without provocation. DVT is especially common in patients hospitalized with COVD-19.
What are the Symptoms of DVT?
Signs of DVT can include:
Swelling in a leg
Pain in a leg
Redness or discoloration on the leg skin
Often DVT is “silent” and occurs without any symptoms at all
In the weeks and months after having a DVT, some people can develop post-thrombotic syndrome, a chronic condition marked by progressively increasing leg swelling and pain. Dr. Reynolds explains that DVT leg clots cause internal damage to the veins, resulting in reversed blood flow, obstruction, and narrowing. When this happens, blood pools in the legs.
According to Dr. Reynolds, other symptoms of this condition include a feeling of heaviness in the leg, widening of leg veins, skin discoloration and thickening, and chronic sores called venous ulcers.
Diagnosis and Treatment for DVT
Early recognition and treatment of DVT is key to avoiding complications, says Dr. Reynolds. He adds that “the most important test to determine if a DVT is present is a leg vein ultrasound performed by a well-trained vascular technician.”
Dr. Reynolds says that anticoagulation (blood thinners) is the mainstay of treatment, with the goal being preventing clots from growing and causing complications. He warns that “blood thinners are wonderful drugs but because they decrease the ability to form normal clots, their use can cause serious bleeding. The decision to use blood thinners must be made after careful consideration of risk and benefits.”
Immediate DVT Rule-Out Appointments
CVR offers immediate “STAT” DVT rule-out appointments and advanced treatment options. If you think that you, or someone you love, may be experiencing a DVT, time is of the essence. Call 1-800-FIX-LEGS (1-800-349-5347) and ask about this potentially life-saving appointment.