Deep venous thrombosis

Alternative Names

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.

Treatment

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.

Expectations (prognosis)

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.

Review

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

Deep venous thrombosis, ileofemoral
Deep veins
Venous blood clot
Deep veins

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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