DVT; Blood clot in the legs; Thromboembolism; Post-phlebitic syndrome; Post-thrombotic syndrome
Definition of Deep venous thrombosis
Deep venous thrombosis is a condition in which a forms in a vein that is deep inside the body.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Deep venous thrombosis (DVT) mainly affects the large veins in the lower leg and thigh. The clot can block blood flow and cause swelling and pain. When a clot breaks off and moves through the bloodstream, this is called an embolism. An embolism can get stuck in the brain, lungs, heart, or other area, leading to severe damage.
Signs and tests
Your health care provider will perform a physical exam. The exam may show a red, swollen, or tender leg.
Your doctor will give you medicine to thin your blood (called an anticoagulant). This will keep more clots from forming or old ones from getting bigger. These drugs cannot dissolve existing clots.
Many DVTs disappear without a problem, but they can return. Some people may have long-term pain and swelling in the leg known as post-phlebitic syndrome. Wearing tight (compression) stockings during and after the DVT may help prevent this problem.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 2/9/2010