Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Treatment

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a potentially life-threatening medical issue where a thrombus, commonly known as a blood clot, develops within a deep vein, generally in the leg. However, DVT can also develop within the deep veins in the arm.

Without prompt treatment, DVT can cause major medical disorders, most notably chronic venous insufficiency and pulmonary embolism.

Venous insufficiency is a deep vein disorder that prevents the blood in the legs from returning to the heart efficiently. The condition leads to swelling in the legs and ankles, discolored skin, cramping, and leg ulcers.

A pulmonary embolism occurs when an arterial channel is obstructed by material, most often a blood clot. The blockage can lead to severe complications such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, and even death.

Spider veins, varicose veins, and DVT are all related to the health of veins in the legs. Spider veins are small, thin veins that can be seen just beneath the skin's surface. Varicose veins are larger, swollen veins that can cause discomfort or heaviness in the legs. Having severe varicose veins might increase the risk of DVT.

If you're looking for DVT doctors, it's best to consult with a vascular specialist. DVT specialists have the expertise to test for DVT, which is a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention.

DVT Risk Factors

While anyone can develop DVT, certain risk factors increase a person's chances.

  • Immobility: Remaining sedentary for long stretches can increase the risk of developing DVT.
  • Age: The older a person is, the greater the risk. DVT is more common in individuals over 60 years old.
  • Previous history of DVT: People who have been diagnosed with DVT are at high risk of recurrence.
  • Obesity: Being overweight or obese can contribute to DVT due to increased pressure on veins.
  • Family history: If a close family member – parent, sibling, or grandparent – has a history of DVT, the risk may be higher.
  • Chronic diseases: Certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease, can increase the risk of DVT.
  • Injury: Trauma or injuries to the veins can raise the risk of forming blood clots.
  • Surgery: DVT can occur after surgery, particularly procedures that involve the legs, such as hip replacement or abdominal surgery.
  • Inherited factors: Some genetic conditions can influence the likelihood of blood clots. Factor V Leiden or prothrombin gene mutations might increase the risk of DVT.
  • Chronic constipation: Chronic constipation, which can affect blood flow, has been linked to an increased risk of DVT.
  • Pregnancy: DVT can occur during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester.
  • Smoking: Smoking increases the risk of DVT, as well as other forms of vascular disease.

Moreover, people with lymphedema or who take hormonal birth control pills are at a heightened risk of experiencing DVT. Additionally, current research has indicated an increased risk for DVT among people with varicose veins.

DVT Symptoms

The most common DVT symptoms include the following issues:

  • Swelling in the affected limb
  • Pain or tenderness in the calf or thigh
  • Warmth or redness of the skin
  • Leg cramps or spasms

Not every person with DVT experiences symptoms. If you are at risk for DVT due to age, history of smoking, obesity, or other factors, please discuss your health concerns and DVT treatment options with your physician.

Tests for DVT

Early DVT diagnosis is the key to successful, minimally invasive treatment. If you suspect that you may have DVT, there are several tests that can be performed to diagnose the condition. These tests might include the following:

  • Doppler ultrasound: This test uses sound waves to detect clots in the veins.
  • X-Ray and Fluoroscopy Imaging: This test, also known as fluoroscopy-guided angiography or a venogram test, involves injecting a dye into the vein to visualize the blood flow by X-ray.
  • Computed Tomography Pulmonary Angiogram (CTPA): This test uses X-rays and a computer to create a detailed image of the blood vessels in the lung.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): MRI might be recommended as a diagnostic tool for identifying DVT.

DVT Medications

Deep vein thrombosis medications are often used in conjunction with preventive measures to treat DVT. The following medications known as “clot-busting” drugs are commonly used:

  • Thrombolytic Drugs: These drugs work to break up the clot and restore blood flow. They can be administered intravenously or orally, depending on the severity of the case. Common thrombolytic drugs include streptokinase and urokinase.
  • Blood Thinners: Anticoagulants, such as the intravenous drug heparin and the oral drug warfarin, are prescribed to prevent the formation of new clots and reduce the risk of further clots. These medications are typically given for at least 3-6 months.

Though not pharmaceutical treatment, compression stockings might also be recommended to facilitate blood flow in the legs and minimize symptoms.

Valley Radiology: Effective, Comprehensive DVT Treatment

A vascular specialist has the dedicated knowledge and skills to recognize DVT. If you suspect that you may have DVT, it's important to seek medical treatment from a qualified specialist as soon as possible.

Valley Radiology offers innovative, targeted DVT diagnosis for patients in the Fayetteville and Angier, NC communities. If you have concerns about deep vein thrombosis, please discuss your symptoms and DVT treatment options with your primary care provider ASAP.

For diagnostic imaging-related concerns or inquiries, please contact the Valley Radiology team online today.