Deep venous thrombosis

When blood clots in a vein which prevents blood from returning to the heart, then blood accumulates in the leg leading to swelling and pain.

Blood flows from the heart to the feet through the arteries. Once in the foot, it returns to the heart through two large veins and capillaries. It then flows to the lungs where it is  oxygenated. When blood clots inside a vein, it cannot return to the heart, so this blood accumulates in the leg which makes the leg swell and hurt.

Thrombosis in a deep vein is a phenomenon that could be compared to milk when it turns into yogurt, i.e. blood solidifies which hinders normal circulation.

When a venous thrombus breaks loose and moves away from the vein wall where it formed, it will eventually end up in the lungs, given that the blood in the veins always travels towards the heart, and then to the lungs through the pulmonary arteries. Once it reaches the lung, it obstructs the inside of one or more pulmonary arteries, and this is called  pulmonary embolism (PE).

The most common location where a venous thrombus forms is in the deep veins of the legs. The symptoms are normally pain and swelling of the affected leg.

This is called deep vein thrombosis ( DVT) because it affects the deep, but not the superficial veins of the limbs. Thrombosis may also be found in the veins in the arms or in some of the internal organs.

RELATED QUESTIONS

Three weeks ago I was admitted to the hospital because of DVT and I have already recovered. However, I still have heaviness in my affected leg. Is this normal?

Yes, it is normal. However, it is also normal that this heaviness feeling starts improving with time. A year after suffering from  DVT in a leg, 2 out of 3 patients do not feel heaviness or pain in the affected leg. This is why, it is generally recommended not to remain standing up, sitting with your legs dangling or crossed-legged for many hours. On the other hand, going for a walk is fine, as well as swimming or riding a bicycle.

My husband wants to take off the elastic bandage of the leg where he had a thrombosis because he feels that it is more swollen with the stocking now. Is it OK if he takes it off or should he keep it on for as long he was told?

The elastic bandage (or stocking) usually improves the symptoms (pain, heaviness, swelling) in more than half of the patients. In other patients it does not improve or worsens them. However, there is about a 10% of patients in whom discomfort increases while using it. In these cases, it is better not to wear it.

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Do you have questions?

If there are any aspects of thrombosis and/or pulmonary embolism that you are not sure about, you can contact us, and our specialists will answer you shortly. This cannot replace the visit to your doctor

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