Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition where a blood clot forms in one or more of the deep veins in the body, usually in the legs. It can cause leg pain, but can occur without any symptoms. DVT can develop if you??re sitting still for a long time, like traveling in a car or plane, or if you have certain medical conditions that affect how your blood clots. Because a blood clot can break loose and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, DVT is considered a serious condition.
In almost half of all patients, DVT occurs without any noticeable symptoms. However, when there are symptoms present they can include:
- Changes in skin color, like turning pale, red, or blue.
- Swelling in the affected leg, including in the ankle and foot.
- Warmth over the affected area.
- Pain in the affected leg, which can include pain in the ankle and foot. The pain usually starts in the calf and can feel like a charley horse.
If you develop symptoms of DVT, then you should contact your doctor for guidance. However, if you develop signs of a pulmonary embolism (a life-threatening complication of DVT), then you should seek medical attention immediately. Approximately 200,000 people die annually as a result of pulmonary embolism. Warning signs of a pulmonary embolism include: unexplained sudden shortness of breath, rapid pulse, sweating, coughing up blood, anxiety or nervousness, feeling lightheaded or dizzy, or chest pain or discomfort that worsens when you breathe deeply.
The goal of DVT treatment is threefold: stopping the blood clot from getting any bigger, preventing the clot from breaking loose and causing a pulmonary embolism, and reducing the chances of DVT from happening again. Treatment options may include blood thinners, clot busters, filters, and/or compression stockings. The latest treatment option is called the Trellis device. Studies have shown that treatment with the device breaks up a blood clot in most patients quicker than using just a drug. Using imaging, the device is guided directly to the clot via a catheter in the vein. The Trellis removes the clot and restores blood flow much quicker than the current catheter-directed thrombolysis technique, which uses a drug alone and can take as long as two to three days to be effective with the patient in an ICU. The Trellis combines the use of clot busting drugs with a drug dispersion device to break up the clot. Because the device disperses the drug throughout the clot, it allows the clot-dissolving drug to work much more quickly and often less drug is used.