Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot develops in one or more of the veins deep inside your body, generally in your legs. The condition can cause leg pain, but it often occurs without any symptoms.
DVT can develop if you have certain medical conditions that affect how your blood clots or if you’re sitting still for a long time, such as while traveling by car or airplane.
The condition can pose a serious threat to health. Pieces of a clot can break off, travel through the bloodstream, and lodge in your lungs, where they block the blood flow and cause a pulmonary embolism. Deep vein thrombosis can also block blood flow in the veins, causing the blood to pool. This can cause swelling, pain, and permanent damage to the leg.
Deep vein thrombosis occurs without symptoms about 50 percent of the time. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
- Swelling in the leg
- Red, discolored, or white skin
- A cord in a leg vein that can be felt
- Rapid heart beat (tachycardia)
- Slight fever
- Warm skin
- More visible surface veins
- Dull ache, tightness, tenderness, or pain in the leg (these symptoms may only occur while walking or standing)
If you are experiencing pain, tenderness, or swelling in one leg or changes in the skin color of a leg, you may need treatment for deep vein thrombosis. Our specialists will thoroughly evaluate your medical history and symptoms to determine whether you are at an increased risk for developing additional blood clots and to prescribe the right course of action.
Additional diagnostic procedures for deep vein thrombosis may include:
- Duplex ultrasound
- Involves using high frequency sound waves to look at the speed of blood flow and the veins. Occasionally a blood clot may be visualized by ultrasound.
This procedure is noninvasive and involves placing ultrasound gel on the affected area and then moving a handheld device across it. A picture of the blood flow is displayed on a monitor. Duplex ultrasound is the most commonly performed diagnostic test for DVT.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body. It is particularly effective in diagnosing deep vein thrombosis in the pelvis.
- Uses X-rays and intravenous (IV) contrast dye to visualize the veins. Contrast dye causes the blood vessels to appear opaque on the X-ray image, allowing the physician to visualize the blood vessels being evaluated.
At UT Southwestern, our goal for treatment is to prevent the clot from growing, to ensure that it does not break off and travel through the veins to the lungs, and to help reduce the possibility of another blood clot forming. Our vascular specialists provide the treatment necessary to help ensure that deep vein thrombosis cannot move to other areas, such as the brain, heart, and lungs, where it can cause further damage.
Our specialists can also help prevent any additional damage to an affected leg by using anti-coagulant treatments delivered through the vein, as well as oral medications. Also available are new interventions that specifically remove the clot. Our vascular specialists will help prevent complications related to deep vein thrombosis and analyze your risk factors for recurrences.
Effectively treating your condition is a priority for our vascular specialists, who are dedicated to providing attentive and compassionate care combined with the most advanced medical therapies available for the treatment of deep vein thrombosis.
UT Southwestern Medical Center’s vascular specialists have the knowledge and experience needed to accurately diagnose and effectively treat deep-vein thrombosis. Our vascular physicians will prescribe the right course of treatment for a patient’s condition, including medications that will help prevent the development of additional blood clots.