Deep Vein Thrombosis - Medical Malpractice Lawyers

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Deep Vein Thrombosis - Medical Malpractice

A deep vein thrombosis is also called a DVT. It is a condition in which one or more of the deep veins within the leg or arm or pelvis form a blood clot which interferes with venous flow. DVTs are most common in the legs but can form in the chest, arm and pelvis. The most common symptoms are calf pain but many individuals have no symptoms whatsoever. You are most prone to deep vein thrombosis if you are driving in a car or flying for long distances or if you are on bed rest in a hospital. Those who have a clotting disorder that results in increased clotting are at greater risk of getting a deep vein thrombosis. DVTs can have fatal complications; however, most dissolve on their own with half of all cases having no symptoms at all.

Common symptoms are leg and foot swelling, and ankle swelling of the affected leg. There can be pain in the calf, foot ankle or calf. One can find redness and warmth across the back of the lower leg and you can get arm and neck pain if the DVT occurs during these locations. If you have any of these conditions, you need to seek medical advice to see if the problem is due to a DVT.

Common complications of a deep vein thrombosis include having the clot break off and land in the lungs. This is a pulmonary embolism that can be very deadly. You get light headed, cough up blood and can get immediate coma and death.

There are many risk factors for deep vein thrombosis including sitting or lying for long periods, having a blood clotting disorder, being on bed rest, having cancer, having an injury to the veins in the arms or legs, being pregnant, having poor circulation, having a tube within a vein, being on birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, having a DVT or pulmonary embolism in the past, having a past family history of DVT or pulmonary embolism, or being overweight or obese. Being a smoker can put you at risk for deep vein thrombosis.

The worst complication of deep vein thrombosis is pulmonary embolism or PE. This happens when a blood clot in the peripheral vein breaks off and travels to the pulmonary vein, which normally takes oxygen-poor blood to the lungs to be oxygenated. When the blood cannot be oxygenated, the person suffers immediate sore throat and death. The major symptoms of a PE are lightheadedness or dizziness, shortness of breath, the coughing up of blood, fainting, nervousness and anxiety.

The diagnosis of DVT is made by doing an ultrasound of the leg. The ultrasound machine measures flow of blood through the vein and each vein is compressed with the ultrasound device. If it compresses nicely, there is no blood clot in the vein. A vein with a DVT does not compress and has no blood flow through the vein. An ultrasound is repeated to show the presence of normal blood flow or a clot. Clots can be found by CT scan or MRI scan of the leg. Clots can be found incidentally when ultrasound scans are done for other reasons.

A test called a D-dimer test can be done to check for a DVT. This test is elevated for suspicion of DVT. A venogram can be done to show the flow of blood through the veins. This is when dye is inserted into a vein and the x-ray shows up where the dye flows through the vein and where it doesn't. Where the blood doesn't flow is where a blood clot is present.

The treatment of a deep vein thrombosis involves using blood thinners to gradually dissolve the clot. Heparin is given to begin to dissolve the clot and then Coumadin is used to orally continue with blood clot consumption. Blood thinners may be needed for at least three months in order to break up a clot. Sometimes, a DVT is so severe that clot buster drugs are used, such as TPA. These drugs actively break up a clot and work much faster to dissolve a blood clot. Filters within the vein are used to collect pieces of the clot that break off during the dissolution process. It prevents a pulmonary embolism from forming. The filter is generally placed in the inferior vena cava. Compression stockings are often used to block swelling and to keep blood flowing through the arteries and veins that aren't affected by blood clots.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here