Deep Vein Thrombosis and Thrombophlebitis
The following describes the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of deep-vein thrombosis and thrombophlebitis. For specific information regarding your health and treatment options, please contact your Hurley physician or medical professional.
What are deep-vein thrombosis and thrombophlebitis?
Deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) and thrombophlebitis are conditions in which there is inflammation and blood clots in the veins. These conditions almost always affect the legs but have been known to occur in the arms and other parts of the body as well. DVT, the more serious of the two conditions, involves inflammation and clotting in veins that are deep in the body, while thrombophlebitis affects veins closer to the skin.
What causes deep-vein thrombosis and thrombophlebitis?
Deep-vein thrombosis is typically the result of inactivity due to prolonged bed rest or sitting in the same position for a long period of time, such as on an airplane or long car ride. It can also be caused by blood clotting disorders, pregnancy, obesity, infection, diseases such as cancer, medical conditions that cause thickening of the blood, or birth control pills and other hormonal therapies. Thrombophlebitis is the result of irritation to the veins, which can sometimes be caused by infections or prolonged use of I.V. medications.
What are the symptoms of deep-vein thrombosis and thrombophlebitis?
Common symptoms of deep-vein thrombosis and thrombophlebitis include:
- Pain or swelling in the leg or other affected area
- Redness of the skin
- Warmth and tenderness in the affected area
- Visible, hard, ropelike veins if the condition is occurring close to the surface of the skin
- Many people with DVT will exhibit no symptoms
How are deep-vein thrombosis and thrombophlebitis diagnosed?
Your Hurley physician’s patient-and family-centered approach to diagnosis will include a complete physical exam and may require additional tests such as ultrasounds, CT scans, MRIs, or blood work.
How are deep-vein thrombosis and thrombophlebitis treated?
Treatment for thrombophlebitis typically involves at-home remedies such as applying heat to the painful area and elevating the affected area. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help relieve pain and reduce swelling. Your physician may prescribe antibiotics if an infection is suspected.
Left untreated, deep-vein thrombosis can lead to heart attack, stroke, or pulmonary embolism (a life threatening blockage of the arteries in the lungs). DVT is often treated with blood thinning medications to help prevent the clot from worsening and to reduce the chances of additional clots forming. Some patients will require the use of support stockings to help reduce swelling in the legs. Surgical procedures sometimes used in the course of treatment of DVT include implanting a permanent filter into the vena cava (a large vein in the abdomen) to prevent clots from reaching the heart or lungs, surgically removing clots or blocked veins, and surgically removing varicose veins in the legs. Your Hurley physician can make a treatment recommendation based on your particular case.