Vein Disorders

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a condition that can occur when a blood clot forms in a deep vein of the body. DVT’s commonly are in the lower extremities, although they can occur in any deep vein within the body. DVT’s can occur spontaneously with an unknown etiology, but they are usually caused by lack of movement. Typical scenarios are a prolonged trip on a plane, car or train. It can also be caused by trauma.

The signs and symptoms of a deep vein thrombosis can include pain and/or swelling in the foot, ankle, calf or leg unexplained and is usually only in one extremity. There can be increased warmth to the skin and/or you can notice reddish-blue color changes to the skin of the extremity. Deep vein thrombosis can result in a pulmonary embolus, (PE). This is when the blood clot moves within the circulation and travel to the heart and lungs. This can be life threatening. If you have new onset leg pain, swelling and shortness of breath, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Typical treatment for deep vein thrombosis may include blood thinners intravenously, subcutaneously or with oral medications such as Eliquis, Xarelto or Coumadin. These medications prevent additional clot from forming. They do not dissolve the thrombus. In select cases “clot busting” medicine may be used to dissolve the clot.

Episodes of DVT are diagnosed and monitored with non painful ultrasounds. After a few days of a new DVT, the clot adheres to the vein wall and the risk of PE diminishes. Swelling and discomfort may continue for months after a diagnosis of DVT.

Superficial Venous Thrombosis (SVT)

Superficial venous thrombosis or thrombophlebitis (SVT) is when a blood clot called a thrombus develops in a vein located near the surface of the skin, usually in the leg. Superficial thrombophlebitis can occur spontaneously, especially in the lower extremities in the great saphenous vein, its branches or in varicose veins. It can also occur in veins following trauma or an intravenous. The etiology of SVT is frequently unknown, however it is more common to occur in varicose veins. These abnormal dilated varicose veins have blood stagnating within them which predisposes the blood to clot. This condition presents as redness and tenderness along the course of the vein, usually accompanied by swelling.

It can also result in simultaneous deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Therefore, you should be evaluated by a physician and you may require a non painful ultrasound test. This will confirm the extent of your condition. Sometimes the thrombus can extend into the deep system veins, which may require treatment with a “blood thinner” anticoagulant. Superficial phlebitis pain and redness usually improves on its own, within a couple of weeks. The redness is secondary to inflammation and not infection. Antibiotics typically are not needed. The lumps or palpable cords may take a few months to disappear. Treatment usually consists of moist heat, leg elevation when not being active and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as Ibuprofen, Motrin or Naproxen.

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