Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

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Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in the large veins in the leg or pelvis. DVT isn't life-threatening. But it can lead to serious health problems if the clot travels to the lung artery, creating a pulmonary embolism.

Diagnosis & Treatment at UVA Health

At UVA Health, vascular disease experts diagnose and treat DVT and other vascular diseases. We may use these tests to diagnose your condition:

  • Ultrasound
  • Blood test
  • Venogram or phlebogram

For less severe cases of DVT, your doctor may recommend compression stockings and anticoagulant medication. These keep blood clots from forming. 

Patients who can't take medication may have a thrombectomy. Doctors will remove the clot through a small groin incision.

Thrombolysis treats more severe cases of DVT. Your doctor inserts a catheter in the clot's location. Then administers medication to break up the clot.

You'll need to take anticoagulant medication after the procedure to prevent clots from forming.

Learn more about UVA Health's expertise in vascular disease care.

What Causes DVT?

There are three main causes of DVT: 

  • Irritated or inflamed inner vein lining
  • Blood that quickly clots
  • Slow blood flow through a vein deep in the leg or pelvic area

Are You at Risk?

You may be at risk for DVT if you:

  • Are on bed rest during or after an illness or major medical procedure
  • Have cancer or undergoing cancer treatment
  • Are confined or unable to walk
  • Have a family history of blood clots
  • Are obese
  • Have respiratory or heart failure
  • Smoke
  • Are pregnant
  • Receive hormone therapy

Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis

Many people with DVT have no symptoms. If you're at risk or do experience symptoms, you'll want to seek care:

  • Leg pain or tenderness in calf muscles
  • Leg swelling
  • Changes in skin color on the leg or foot 

A pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency. Seek care right away if you experience:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid pulse
  • Cough