What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?

Deep vein thrombosis, also sometimes referred to as DVT, occurs when a blood clot forms in the leg’s deep veins. To fully understand how deep vein thrombosis happens and why it’s considered a dangerous condition, it is important to be familiar with the anatomy of the legs. Each of your legs holds superficial veins, which are close to the skin’s surface, and deep veins, which are found further within the limb and typically carry most of the body’s blood. Oftentimes, deep veins are also located close to arteries.

When a blood clot forms in your deep veins, it becomes a dangerous condition. This is because pieces of the blood clot can break off at any moment and without warning, where they will then travel to the heart or become lodged in the kidneys or lungs. When this happens, the situation becomes life-threatening and it is imperative to seek immediate medical attention by calling 911. Depending on where the clot sticks, it could cause a heart attack, kidney failure and even severe organ damage.

A blood clot in the deep vein of the leg itself is not immediately dangerous – Only when parts of it break off and travel to other areas of the body does it become a medical emergency. Deep vein thrombosis is quite treatable and the expert surgeons at OrthoCARE Institute offer a variety of options for care.

Causes

Because deep vein thrombosis is defined as a blood clot formed in the deep veins of your leg, there are a number of potential causes. Blood clots are generally formed as a result of anything that prevents your blood from circulating and/or clotting normally. Some of the most common causes of deep vein thrombosis include:

  • Excess weight or obesity
  • Lack of regular activity or exercise
  • Prolonged periods of sitting or limited mobility, including long-term usage of a wheelchair, lengthy flights or even sitting at a desk for many hours
  • Smoking
  • Taking birth-control pills
  • Sudden trauma and/or bruising to the vein, typically caused by a fracture within the leg
  • Suffer from another condition, such as a blood-clotting disorder, cancer, heart disease, lung disease or inflammatory bowel disease

Symptoms

Some of the hallmark symptoms of deep vein thrombosis include:

  • Swelling in the affected leg
  • Pain and soreness in the leg that often begins in the calf area and can resemble a cramping feeling
  • Redness, tenderness and/or warmth stemming from the vein and surrounding area becoming inflamed

Sometimes deep vein thrombosis occurs with no noticeable symptoms. It is important to be aware of any symptoms that may occur, so you can see your doctor for a proper diagnosis right away.

The OrthoCARE Treatment Approach

Oftentimes, a conservative approach to treatment is successful in preventing the blood clot from enlarging or breaking off from the vein. Medications, such as blood thinners or anti-inflammatories, may be prescribed. Additionally, warm compresses, leg compression and certain lifestyle changes may also be recommended.

If patients are unable to take their prescribed blood thinning medication for any reason, such as a recent major surgery, we may recommend minimally invasive surgery to treat your deep vein thrombosis. The vast majority of minimally invasive options for deep vein thrombosis will involve either:

  • Thrombectomy, which locates and then removes the clot through a catheter
  • Vena Cava Filter, which involves inserting a filter into a large vein in the abdomen. This filter “catches” the blood clot, if it breaks loose, and prevents it from becoming stuck in your lungs.

OrthoCARE Institute, a division of the vertically-integrated Lumin Health system, is North Texas’s premier bone, joint and spinal center. Our experienced orthopedic surgeons offer expertise in a variety of compassionate and innovative treatments for many conditions. To get in touch and schedule a consultation today, please call us at 972-573-7802 or fill out the form on our Contact Us page. We look forward to serving you!