DVT & PE
Deep Vein Thrombosis occurs when a blood clot develops in the large veins of the legs. A Deep vein thrombosis can be caused by anything that prevents our ability to circulate blood or for our blood to clot normally. Events that can affect our circulation and our ability to clot could be recent surgery, injury, sedentary lifestyle, and medication.
Deep vein thrombosis can cause sudden swelling of one limb, pain, tenderness, change in color of affected extremity, as well as temperature. A deep vein thrombosis can also occur without any symptoms. If you develop signs or symptoms of deep vein thrombosis, contact you doctor. With Prompt diagnosis and treatment, DVT may not be life threatening.
Diagnostic studies used to identify DVTs could be: Ultrasound, Lab test, Venography, CT or MRI scans.
After a diagnosis has been made a physician may take a couple of different approaches to treating a patient, depending on the size, location, and status of the patient. These treatments include blood thinners, clot busters, compression stockings, filters, and other surgical procedures. Treatment varies but the goal is the same, to keep the patient safe. Treatment is aimed at prevention, preventing the clot from growing and/or moving. After the clot is resolved, the focus goes to preventing thrombosis from happening again.
When a clot forms in a large deep leg vein, breaks free, and begins to travel through the vein it is then called an embolus. This can be very serious, an embolus has the potential to reach and become lodged in a lung artery. If an embolus becomes lodged in a lung artery it is considered a pulmonary embolism (PE) which is a potentially fatal condition.
Symptoms of a pulmonary embolus include chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid pulse, cough, anxiety, sweating, or fainting. If you were to experience any of these symptoms seeking immediate medical attention greatly reduces the risk of death. By taking steps towards preventing blood clots in your legs, we also protect ourselves against pulmonary embolism.
In order to diagnose a PE there are many different scans and tests, they include:
- Chest X-ray
- Blood tests
- Spiral CT scan
- Pulmonary Angiogram
Treatments include clot dissolvers which are called thrombolytics may be given through the vein to dissolve clots quickly in life threatening situations. For others, oral pills may be given which keep the clot from getting any bigger and lower the chances of another clot forming.