deep vein thrombosis

The warning signs of deep vein thrombosis


deep-vein-thrombosisKey learning points:

  • Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis can be minimal but a patient will typically complain of unilateral leg pain and swelling
  • Hospitalisation increases the risk and extended thromboprophylaxis is given to high-risk patients on discharge
  • Once a deep vein thrombosis is suspected, an ultrasound scan should be performed within four hours

A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a thrombus (blood clot) that has developed in the venous system, most commonly in the deep veins of the leg, and can partially or completely obstruct the flow of blood. If not treated, a DVT can break off and travel through the veins and heart to the pulmonary arteries in the lungs. This is known as a pulmonary embolism (PE) and can be fatal.

The term venous thromboembolism (VTE) is used to describe a blood clot that can either be a DVT or a PE. Standard treatment for VTE is with anticoagulant drugs such as warfarin.

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