Symptoms and Signs of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 10/29/2021

Doctor's Notes on DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis)

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition in which blood clots (thrombi, singular = thrombus) for in the deep veins of the extremities, usually the legs. There are a number of potential causes of DVT. Causes include broken bones, other trauma to a limb, immobility (such as prolonged bedrest or long flights), medications, smoking, genetic predisposition, and certain cancers.

Deep vein thrombosis may not cause any associated symptoms or signs. Symptoms that do occur may include:

  • swelling of the involved leg, 
  • leg pain,
  • tenderness,
  • redness, and
  • warmth.

DVT (thrombus) in the deep veins of the leg becomes dangerous if a piece of the blood clot breaks off and passes through the blood stream, through the heart, and into the pulmonary arteries. This is known as a pulmonary embolism.

What Is the Treatment for Deep Vein Thrombosis?

Treatment of deep vein thrombosis typically involves medications:

  • Anticoagulant medications, sometimes referred to as blood thinner drugs, work to prevent a clot from enlarging and prevent the development of more clots. Anticoagulant drugs are the most common form of treatment.
  • Thrombolytic medication are drugs used to dissolve a blood clot and are given intravenously or through a catheter directed at the site of the clot. Thrombolytics are used for more severe cases of DVT.

For some people, a filter is inserted into a large vein known as the inferior vena cava (IVC) to prevent blood clots from traveling to the lungs.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.