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DVT and Me…

What is DVT and how does it develop?

To be healthy and live and active life, we have to have balanced circulation.  DVT is the formation of a thrombus or clot formed of red blood cells and this is when circulation fails in the body.  The development of a thrombus can block a vessel or travel within that vessel, this occurs for three main reasons.  The first two, stasis of blood, and injury to a blood vessel, can lead to formation of a clot.  This is why doctors and nurses insist on people moving after surgery or after a trauma or injury. Thirdly, “thick blood” can occur in people who have cancer or clotting abnormalities and lead to a clot forming.  DVT is a clot on the vein side of the circulation.  This is where blood comes back to the heart and lungs from the body.    

What are the common symptoms of DVT?  Are they always obvious?

The most common symptoms are pain and swelling.  Both of these can be sudden and severe.  It is almost always noticed by the patient.  Sometimes during certain illnesses or surgeries the risk of DVT can be higher.

How is DVT diagnosed and treated?

DVT is diagnosed with the use of an ultrasound machine to “see” the blood clot or look for abnormal flow.  DVT is treated almost universally with a blood thinner.  Massive DVT or PE can be treated by vascular surgeons who can remove or dissolve the clot to improve blood flow.

The Importance of Moving After Surgery

Why is it important to move after surgery? Won’t it be painful?

If you have ever had surgery and had to stay in the hospital afterward, you’ve probably noted that the surgeon and staff frequently encourage patients to get up out of bed and walk as soon as they are able. Yes, it may be painful, but there is a rhyme behind our reason. First, moving and ambulation help prevent blood clots like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and a pulmonary embolism (PE) from developing. These are potentially fatal, but early ambulation after surgery can significantly decrease one’s risk. Moreover, early ambulation stimulates the lungs to breathe more deeply and thus helps to prevent infections like pneumonia. Early ambulation helps build muscle tone and strength and can promote faster healing by improving oxygen delivery to the tissues. So, walk early and walk often after surgery!

New Options for Treating After-Effects of Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis in the past –  current leg problems – could this be related?

This could be postphlebitic syndrome. Scar tissue can develop within the vein system after a blood clot has formed and block the blood flow in the vein. The vein’s main job is to drain the blood away from the leg and back to the heart. If the blockage prevents flow, then pressure can form and lead to symptoms. These include pain, pressure, heaviness, difficulty walking, unilateral leg swelling, darkening and thickening of the skin, formation of sores and wounds that don’t heal near the ankle.
For many years, physicians had limited options or therapy for this condition, often using blood thinners. This treatment doesn’t correct the functional blood flow problem and only prevents new blood clots. Today there are many new techniques to re-establish blood flow in the blocked veins, relieving symptoms and improving the clinical situation.
Being evaluated by a vascular surgeon who specializes in this disease process can diagnose the exact issue and potentially offer a therapy to improve your situation even if the DVT happened years ago.