deep vein thrombosis

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?

A Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that lodges in a deep vein of the body – usually on the pelvis, calf or thigh.

Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis

Symptoms usually occur in one leg, may increase with standing or walking, and can include:

  • Pain or tenderness
  • Swelling of the lower leg, ankle or foot
  • Heat
  • Changes in skin colour – reddish or blue discolouration


Complications of Deep Vein Thrombosis

If the blood clot from a DVT breaks off it may travel back the heart or lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolisms can be virtually unnoticed or can cause sharp chest pain, breathing problems or death.

If you suspect you have DVT, you need immediate medical attention. If you have shortness of breath or chest pains, call 000.

If the blood clot remains in the vein, it can block the flow of blood which can cause fluid to build up and the leg to swell. It can also cause leg ulcers.

Causes of Deep Vein Thrombosis

Risk factors for Deep Vein Thrombosis include:

  • Age
  • Recent surgery & bed rest during recuperation
  • Traumatic injury to the legs or hips
  • Oral contraceptives or oestrogen replacement
  • Family history of DVT
  • Pregnancy
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Sitting still for long periods of time
  • Some types of cancer
  • Previous blood clots
  • Broken hip or leg
  • Inherited blood clotting abnormalities
  • Inflammatory bowel disease


Deep Vein Thrombosis Treatment

Once Deep Vein Thrombosis is confirmed, you will usually be placed on anti-coagulant medication and wear compression stockings.

If you can’t take anti-coagulants, or the DVT occurs while you are on the medication, then a clot-trapping filter (Inferior Vena Caval (IVC) filter) may be placed in the main vein that connects the lower body to the heart or lungs.

You may also undergo a procedure called thrombolysis, where clot dissolving drugs are injected directly into the clot via a catheter.

In certain situations, surgery called venous thrombectomy to remove a severe deep vein clot may be recommended.

Dr Williams will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of your different options with you during your appointment.