Deep vein thrombosis is a serious medical condition that often goes undiagnosed. Many people do not know they have this issue until complications develop that put their lives at risk. The team at the Vein & Vascular Institute wants you to know more about this serious condition, so you can protect your health.
What Is DVT?
Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is a serious medical condition that occurs when blood clots form in a deep vein. The clots often form in the lower leg, thigh, or pelvic area, though they can occur in the arm as well. DVT can cause the affected area to swell or feel painful, but often it causes no symptoms.
Complications of DVT
DVT can create serious, life-threatening complications when part of the clot breaks off and enters the lungs. This causes a pulmonary embolism, or PE. Small clots are serious, but most people can recover from them with proper treatment. However, large clots can cause serious complications, such as damage to the valves, damage to the lungs, or ulcers in an affected area of the body. If not treated, a pulmonary embolism can be fatal.
DVT Risk Factors
Anyone can develop a DVT, but some factors can increase your risk of this serious vein condition. For instance, people who have a vein injury are at higher risk. Other risk factors include:
- Slow blood flow due to bed rest or limited movement after a surgery or injury
- Increased estrogen levels due to hormone replacement therapy or birth control
- Chronic illness
- Blood clotting disorders
- Family history of DVT or PE
Why DVT Leads to Pulmonary Embolisms
DVT in and of itself rarely causes serious problems. However, any time blood clots exist in the deep veins, they are at risk for breaking off. When they do, they will travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, which is a much more serious condition. Because of this, it is very important for someone diagnosed with DVT to have their condition treated promptly.
Diagnosing DVT & PE
DVT is diagnosed through a special imaging test known as duplex ultrasonography, which uses sound waves to look at blood flow in the veins. If blockages or clots in the deep veins exist, this imaging test will detect them. The D-dimer blood test can also help rule out deep vein blood clots. The most accurate test, but a far more invasive procedure, is contrast venography that uses contrast material to map out the veins. This is typically used when planning treatment for DVT.
To diagnose PE, computed tomographic pulmonary angiography, or CTPA, is typically used. This contrast x-ray test provides images of the blood vessels in the lungs and is the standard test used to detect PE.
Contact Us at Vein & Vascular
DVT and PE are serious conditions that require prompt diagnosis and treatment. If you suspect that you have either of these, schedule a consult with the Vein & Vascular Institute. You can also meet our vein physicians in Vineland, Voorhees, Sewell and Lumberton, New Jersey, by reading about them before your appointment. Let us help you protect your health with treatment for pulmonary embolism and DVT.