Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a dangerous form of vein disease that “hides” in the deep veins of your legs. It has few obvious symptoms, but could lead to fatal complications, such as pulmonary embolism and stroke. If DVT goes untreated, more than half will experience long-term complications known as post-thrombotic syndrome. This condition causes swelling, pain, discoloration, and scaling in the affected limb.
In more than half of DVT cases, patients do not have any noticeable symptoms. For this reason, most people with the condition do not know they have it. People who do have symptoms experience swelling in the affected leg, patches of reddish or warm skin, and pain or aching—especially while standing or walking.
We can rarely diagnose DVT by symptom. For this reason, we usually start by assessing common risk factors for the disease. These include being over age 50, having a family history of vein disease, smoking, obesity, and inactivity—in particular, sitting too much. DVT can also be caused by injury or by long periods of bed rest, such as a long hospital stay.
Diagnosis and Treatment
When a patient has these risk factors, we may recommend an examination using venous Doppler ultrasound, blood pressure readings, and other tests to determine whether blood clots have begun to form in the large veins of your legs. If DVT is present, it can be treated with anticoagulant medications and by wearing compression stockings to improve circulation.