Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) entails a blood clot in one of the deep veins of the leg. Usually it is in the calf that the thrombosis is initiated.

Thrombosis in any of the superficial veins that you can see or feel on the skin is called thrombophlebitis. The risk increases greatly with age. Risk factors for DVT are immobilization, long flights, cancer, old age, stroke, heart failure, smoking, pregnancy, birth control pills, obesity, varicose veins, coagulation defects.

Diagnostic of DVT is an ultrasound or x-ray of the veins. Lab tests may also be indicative. Treatment is as for pulmonary embolism with Coumadin, or factor Xa inhibitor / thrombin. The treatment usually lasts 3 – 12 months depending on the thrombus size and expanse. If relapse of thrombosis occurs, lifelong treatment is recommended.

The treatment is not without risk, and since many of the patients also suffer from other diseases, the risk of major bleeding complications is enlarged. A long-term complication of DVT is post-thrombotic syndrome, which causes pain, swelling, skin rashes and chronic leg ulcers which can partly be counteracted by compression stockings.