Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is when a blood clot forms in the deep, large veins of the leg. It is a potentially life-threatening condition that requires urgent evaluation. At Carolina Vein Specialists, the North Carolina Triad’s leading provider treating leg veins, we have the skill and expertise to detect the presence of DVT and select the best treatment regimen to keep you safe.
An imbalance that causes pain and swelling and can become fatal.
One of the various jobs of your blood is to balance the need for it to clot against the need to keep it from clotting too much. If you have a cut or injury, the blood needs to clot. But if it clots too much, the blood’s ability to move through the veins is affected. This process is controlled by a complex balance of thickening and thinning proteins in your blood. Sometimes, this becomes unbalanced.
In the case of blood clots in the veins, the blood becomes too thick and may clot in the deep, larger veins in the leg muscles that normally drain most of the blood out of the leg, causing deep vein thrombosis.
DVT symptoms include pain and swelling of the lower part of the leg, but those are only part of the concern. In some cases, the clot can break off and move to the lungs, where it becomes lodged. This is called a pulmonary embolism (PE), and it can be fatal.
Common causes of DVT:
- Major surgery on the hip, knee, abdomen or chest
- Prolonged airline or car rides without getting up to walk
- Birth control
- Severe vein disease of the legs
- Less common – cancer or genetic predisposition (a condition that runs in the family)
Trust Greensboro and Winston-Salem’s experienced vein treatment specialists.
Treatment can’t begin without an urgent evaluation first. If you have sudden pain and swelling of your leg associated with recent long travel, use of birth control, pregnancy, recent major surgery, injury, current or recent cancer treatment, or large varicose veins of the leg, you need a duplex ultrasound examination of the legs to confirm the DVT and identify the location and size of the clot.
Once the diagnosis is confirmed, one of our expert vein doctors will determine the most appropriate and effective treatment option for your unique case. Typically, treatment consists of:
- The removal of any birth control or certain hormones
- Beginning a course of blood thinners for 3 to 9 months, depending on multiple factors
- Wearing prescription-strength graduated support hose to reduce the risk of chronic pain even after the clot has stabilized or resolved
- Surgical intervention (in rare cases)
For certain symptoms, do not wait to seek care!
If you have difficulty breathing, have become significantly weak or feverish, or have chest discomfort, you will need an emergency evaluation to rule out the possibility of a clot having traveled from the leg—or having formed within blood vessels in the lungs—causing a potentially life-threatening PE. Seek emergency care or call 911 if you experience any of these symptoms.