Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) involves inflammation and blood clots in the deep veins far from the skin's surface. The greatest danger is that a piece of the clot might break off, and travel through the veins to lodge in the lungs, obstructing breathing. Such an event will result in a pulmonary embolism and can be fatal. DVT can also cause permanent vein damage, leading to varicose veins, pain and swelling, and ulcers on the skin.
In thrombophlebitis, the inflammation and blood clots develop in the veins closer to the skin's surface, usually as varicose veins. There is a very slight risk of the blood clot traveling into the deeper veins.
Superficial thrombophlebitis is usually caused by irritation to the vein's lining. This is common in varicose veins or when a clot causes inflammation.
Thrombophlebitis often causes redness on the skin over the affected vein. The vein may also feel hard and thick. The affected leg can swell, and feel hot and painful over the vein. Fever indicates infection of the vein.
In the case of thrombophlebitis, the discomfort and appearance of a leg affected is usually enough for a doctor to diagnose this condition. However, an ultrasound may also be used to help determine if a clot is present and blocking the blood flow.
THE MOST CONSERVATIVE APPROACHES
Small DVTs (blood clots in the deep veins) are managed with compression stockings, blood thinning medication, or blood clot-dissolving medication. Most large DVT's are managed aggressively with Lysis therapy, mechanical thrombectomy, thrombolysis and IVC filters. It is important to diagnose DVT early in order to successfully treat it.
MINIMALLY INVASIVE TECHNIQUES
- Lysis therapy: Through a catheter, clot-dissolving drugs travel directly to the clot and destroy it.
- Mechanical thrombectomy and thrombolysis using AngioJet: The blood clot is drawn into a catheter where high-speed jets of saline fragment it and suction it out of the body.
- IVC Filters: A small filter placed inside the largest vein in the abdomen captures the blood clot. Normal blood flow continues around the trapped clot, which breaks down over time.