Evaluation and Treatment of Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is defined as a blood clot that occurs within one of the body’s deep veins, and is most commonly found in the legs though at times can be present in the arms. Untreated DVT can result in a couple of very serious conditions and even death, so getting to your physician quickly for evaluation is essential. Blood clots prevent the flow of blood past the point of blockage, and, depending on the size of the clot, can result in tissue death and gangrene, sometimes requiring amputation of the affected limb. In the worst-case scenario, untreated clots can break off and travel to the lungs, causing a potentially fatal condition called pulmonary embolism (PE).
What Causes Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Most cases of DVT occur after a patient has taken a long trip or in patients that are already hospitalized for another illness, patients that are bed-ridden and unable to move much without assistance. In general, inactivity can result in DVT because blood flow is stagnant and blood pools and clots more easily. Age and family history also play a large part in contributing to the formation of DVT, which occurs more often in men than in women. Women, during the childbearing period, however, are more likely affected due to pregnancy, breast-feeding, and the use of certain birth-control medications.
How are Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism Diagnosed?
In most cases, a simple non-invasive ultrasound test, an office-based test based on sound waves, is all that is needed to diagnose a DVT. However, occasionally a CT scan is required for diagnosis and is nearly always used to diagnose a PE.
How are Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism Treated?
Dr. Marques and Dr. Sawar are both a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) sponsored ATTRACT Study, which seeks to determine and develop the best possible treatments for blood clots. In addition to their research, the Tampa Cardiology Associates perform various procedures for the treatment of DVT:
Thrombectomy is the removal of blood clots and can be performed either surgically or non-surgically depending on the method used. The Tampa Cardiology Associates are experienced in non-surgical catheter-based techniques of clot removal from both the legs and the lungs (AngioJet and Trellis).IVC Filter Placement An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter is a medical device that is occasionally required in patients who cannot tolerate blood thinners. These devices are implanted in the patient to catch and trap blood clots, preventing the clots from traveling to the lungs where their presence can be potentially life-threatening. These devices are only temporary and are retrieved once their indication is completed.
DVT is often medicated with drugs classified as anti-coagulants, sometimes called blood thinners though they do not actually thin the blood. These medications help in preventing existing clots from growing larger and future clots from forming.
DVT cannot be cured from home but measures can be taken to reduce symptoms and prevent future complications from occurring. Recommended home treatments can include frequent walks, elevating the legs, and wearing compression stockings. Simple actions or lifestyle changes can often make a world of difference in some DVT patients.