Deep Vein Thrombosis Diagnosis Portland | DVT Oregon City
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Diagnosis / Diagnosis / Risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a potentially life-threatening condition that is caused by the formation of a blood clot in a vein located deep inside your body. Typically found in your pelvis, thigh, or lower leg, DVT can also develop in other parts of your body, leading to serious and even fatal health problems.

Blood clots are a necessary part of the healing process, as they form to help keep you from bleeding excessively after an injury. Your blood contains platelets, which assemble together to form a solid, gelatinous mass to block the blood from flowing, known as a blood clot. Once the healing process is complete, the blood clot dissolves on its own.

However, blood clots can also form when your blood isn’t flowing properly. If your blood isn’t moving through your body as it should, and is pooling in your blood vessels instead, the platelets are more likely to stick together naturally, creating an unnecessary blood clot.

Symptoms of DVT

DVT is a condition that may not show any symptoms, or your symptoms may look the same as those from a variety of other health issues. Symptoms include:

  • Swelling in one or both legs, especially if it comes on suddenly
  • Pain or tenderness when you walk or stand
  • The skin on your legs feels warm, or is red or discolored
  • Visible or enlarged veins in your legs
  • Heaviness or tired feeling in your legs

If you notice any of the above symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible, as DVT can quickly evolve into a pulmonary embolism (PE). A pulmonary embolism occurs when the blood clot breaks free and travels through your bloodstream to your lungs. Pulmonary embolisms are extremely serious and can be fatal, so if you develop any of the symptoms listed below, call 911 or go to an emergency room immediately.

  • Shortness of breath or increased heart rate
  • Sharp chest pain that worsens when you breathe deeply
  • Coughing up blood
  • Sudden lightheadedness

If you think you may have DVT, it is important to be aware of signs of a blood clot, especially if your symptoms have come on rapidly, and receiving preventative treatment can ultimately save your life.

Risk Factors

There is a wide range of risk factors that can increase your risk of developing DVT, including:

  • Age – DVT can occur at any age, but your risk increases after the age of 40.
  • Sedentary lifestyle – if you sit for long periods of time without engaging the muscles in your legs, this can make it more difficult for blood to circulate properly. Additionally, if you are on bed rest or recovering from surgery, your risk also increases.
  • Obesity – people who are overweight are at greater risk for developing DVT.
  • Pregnancy – pregnancy puts additional pressure on the veins of your pelvis and legs.
  • Genetics – if a parent or sibling has had DVT, you have a higher likelihood of developing the condition. This is also true if you have certain inherited blood disorders.
  • Smoking – smoking has a negative effect on your circulation, as well as causing damage to your blood vessels.
  • Vein injury – trauma or surgery can damage the lining of nearby veins, making a blood clot more likely to form.
  • Estrogen – the estrogen in birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy can weaken vein walls, as well as increase the ability of your blood to clot.
  • Previous blood clot – if you’ve had a DVT blood clot already, you have a 30 percent chance of developing another one.
  • Other health issues – if you suffer from heart or lung disease, inflammatory bowel disease, have cancer or are going through treatment for cancer, your risk for developing DVT is higher.

Complications

People who have DVT have a higher risk for damage to their veins and organs, as well as the potential for other serious health issues. While not everyone will have complications, it is important to understand the possible problems associated with DVT.

Besides pulmonary embolism, another complication resulting from DVT is known as postthrombotic syndrome. This condition occurs when a blood clot stays in your arms or legs for too long, which can cause damage to the veins or valves. When the valves are damaged, the blood backflows (or refluxes) and allows it to pool in the veins. This can cause venous insufficiency and varicose veins, and it increases your risk of another DVT or PE.

Diagnosis

Deep vein thrombosis can be tricky to diagnose, so if your health history, symptoms and results of a physical exam are inconclusive, your doctor may order diagnostic tests. An ultrasound, MRI, or venography (an x-ray using a special dye injected into your veins for better visibility) are options available to help accurately diagnose your condition.

Treatment

The goal of treatment for DVT is to keep the clot from growing or breaking off and becoming a pulmonary embolism, as well as preventing future clots. Treatment options include:

  • Medications – your doctor may prescribe medications that reduce the ability of your blood to clot, or in severe cases, medications to dissolve the clot.
  • Compression stockings – these are special knee socks that are tight around the ankle and gradually get looser as they get to your knee, designed to prevent blood from pooling in your veins.
  • Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) filter – this filter is placed in the largest vein in your body (the inferior vena cava) and is designed to catch a large blood clot before it is able to reach your lungs.
  • Venous thrombectomy – in rare cases, you may need the blood clot removed surgically.

Treating DVT is vital to avoid further complications and recurring venous issues.

If you have been diagnosed with DVT, or wish to undergo a preventative screening, call IVC today at 503-612-0498 to schedule an appointment with one of our team of experienced and professional interventional radiologists.

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