Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in a vein deep in the body. Veins are blood vessels with valves that help prevent backward blood flow. Blood is pushed through the veins in legs and arms when muscles contract.
Deposits of red blood cells and clotting elements in the blood can build up in a vein. This build up leads to a blood clot. Clots usually occur in the legs, but can occur in other locations. As the clot grows, it blocks blood flow in the vein.
Several factors contribute to clot formation, including:
Factors that may increase your chance of DVT include:
Symptoms occur when:
Some may not have any symptoms until the clot moves to the lungs. This condition is called pulmonary embolism.
Symptoms of DVT may include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
The treatment goals are to:
Treatment options include:
This may include:
Blood thinners are used to prevent additional clots from forming. These may be given by injection or by mouth. This treatment may be continued long-term.
In some cases, a filter may be placed in the inferior vena cava. The vena cava is a major vein. Blood from the lower body returns to the heart through this vein. The filter may trap a clot that breaks loose before it travels to the lungs.
To help reduce your chances of DVT:
If you are admitted to the hospital:
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Bahl V, Hu HM, Henke PK, Wakefield TW, Campbell DA Jr, Caprini JA. A validation study of a retrospective venous thromboembolism risk scoring method. Ann Surg. 2010;251(2):344-350.
Bezemer ID, van der Meer FJ, Eikenboom FR, Doggen CJ. The value of family history as a risk indicator for venous thrombosis. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(6):610-615.
Buller HR, Agnelli G, Hull RD, Hyers TM, Prins MH, Raskob GE. Antithrombotic therapy for venous thromboembolic disease: the Seventh ACCP Conference on Antithrombotic and Thrombolytic Therapy. Chest. 2004;126(suppl 3):401S-428S.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T133588/Deep-vein-thrombosis-DVT. Updated November 5, 2017. Accessed November 30, 2017.
Geerts WH, Pineo GF, Heit JA, et al. Prevention of venous thromboembolism: the Seventh ACCP Conference on Antithrombotic and Thrombolytic Therapy. Chest. 2004;126(suppl 3):338S-400S.
Junger M, Diehm C, Storiko H, et al. Mobilization versus immobilization in the treatment of acute proximal deep venous thrombosis: a prospective, randomized, open, multicentre trial. Curr Med Res Opin. 2006;22:593-602.
Parker C, Coupland C, Hippisley-Cox J. Antipsychotic drugs and risk of venous thromboembolism: nested case-control study. BMJ. 2010;341:c4245.
Ramzi DW, Leeper KV. DVT and pulmonary embolism: Part I. Diagnosis. Am Fam Physician. 2004;69(12):2829-2836.
Ramzi DW, Leeper KV. DVT and pulmonary embolism: Part II. Treatment and prevention. Am Fam Physician. 2004;69(12):2841-2848.
Segal JB. Streiff MB. Hoffman LV. Thornton K. Bass EB. Management of venous thromboembolism: a systematic review for a practice guideline. Ann Intern Med. 2007;146(3):211-222.
Tepper NK, Boulet SL, Whiteman MK, et al. Postpartum venous thromboembolism: incidence and risk factors. Obstet Gynecol. 2014;123(5):978-996.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC Last Updated: 12/20/2014