Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in a vein deep in the body. A blood clot is a buildup of red blood cells, proteins, and other cells in a vein. As the clot grows, it blocks blood flow in the vein.
In DVT, blood clots happen most often in the legs and pelvis. However, they can happen elsewhere.
DVT can lead to serious and life-threatening problems such as a pulmonary embolism.
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DVT can be caused by:
The risk of DVT increases with age. Other things that raise the risk are:
DVT does not always cause symptoms. When symptoms happen, they may include:
Some may not have any symptoms until the clot moves to the lungs. This condition is called a pulmonary embolism.
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done.
To diagnose DVT, the doctor may test blood and blood flow with:
The goals of treatment are to:
Treatment options are:
For large and serious clots, surgery may be done, such as:
To help lower the risk of DVT:
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/deep-vein-thrombosis-dvt. Accessed September 8, 2021.
Deep vein thrombosis. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/deep-vein-thrombosis/. Accessed September 8, 2021.
Di Nisio M, van Es N, et al. Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Lancet. 2016;388(10063):3060-3073.
What is venous thromboembolism? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/dvt/facts.html. Accessed September 8, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Nicole Meregian, PA Last Updated: 9/8/2021