Deep Vein Throbosis

A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in a deep vein. Over time, the blood clot can grow large enough to block the vein. Be aware that you need not have a vein problem to be at risk of DVT. This type of clot occurs most often when blood moves too slowly. Long periods of inactivity, such as during an illness or after surgery, can lead to DVT. If part of the clot breaks off, it can travel to the lungs and lodge in an artery, causing a pulmonary embolism. This poses a risk to health that can even be fatal. DVT must be treated right away.

DVT must be treated to restore blood flow in a vein and to prevent a pulmonary embolism from occurring. The treatment goal is to control the size of the clot and to prevent more clots from forming. Medications are usually prescribed first. Other procedures may be needed to dissolve a large clot or to reduce the risk of a pulmonary embolism. Your doctor will recommend the best treatment for you.

Anticoagulants: With DVT, anticoagulants (also called blood thinners) are often the first line of treatment. These medications help keep blood from clotting. You will be prescribed more than one kind of anticoagulant. At first, these may be given by injection or IV, then later taken by mouth. Your doctor will give you exact medication instructions.

Thrombolysis: This procedure is used to dissolve a large clot. A catheter is inserted into the affected vein and x-rays are taken of the vein and of the clot. Then, special clot-dissolving medication is delivered directly to the clot through the catheter. In some cases, a mechanical device is used alone with the medication to help break up a clot.

    Inferior Vena Cava Filter: An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter is a small device used to trap a blood clot in the lower body, preventing a pulmonary embolism. The filter is delivered by a catheter and placed in the inferior vena cava. This procedure may be done if you have a blood clot in the leg and are at risk of a pulmonary embolism.