Deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body.
Most deep vein clots occur in the lower leg or thigh.
Deep vein thrombosis can cause leg pain or swelling, but may occur without any symptoms.
A small percentage of deep vein thrombi shread off, traveling to the lungs and causing pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal in 40-60% of cases.
1 to 2 million Americans are affected by deep-vein thrombosis each year.
Risk factors for deep-vein thrombosis include immobility, pregnancy, oral contraceptive use, cancer and other causes of coagulopathy, venous stasis, and recent surgery (particularly orthopedic surgery).
Deep-vein thrombosis can be suspected on the basis of physical examination and confirmed with a venous ultrasound.
While anticoagulation is the mainstay of therapy, the risk of the clot breaking off and causing a pulmonary embolism must be weighed against the risk of bleeding complications.
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/deepthrombosis.html)
- National Deep Vein Thrombosis Awareness Month (http://www.health.gov/nhic/newspubs/dvt/dvt.htm)