Blood Clots, Deep Vein Thrombosis and Superficial Thrombophlebitis Blood Clot

Understanding how blood clots do damage.
A blood clot is a mass of blood made up of various components. However, sometimes blood clots form inside blood vessels and don't dissolve naturally. In arteries, these can block the flow of blood carrying essential oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body. In veins, they can dislodge and travel to the heart or lungs, or block blood flow causing leg swelling.

What are deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and superficial thrombophlebitis?
Both diseases involve inflammation and the formation of blood clots in the veins. In 90 percent of cases, the blood clots occur in the leg and occasionally in the arm.

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.

Blood Clot

What are the risk factors for DVT and superficial thrombophlebitis?
The most common causes of DVT are: inactivity, pregnancy, obesity, severe infections, cancer, recent major illness or surgery, conditions that cause the blood to thicken or genetic causes.

Superficial thrombophlebitis is usually caused by irritation to the vein's lining. This is common in varicose veins or when a clot causes inflammation.

What are the symptoms of DVT and superficial thrombophlebitis?
DVT typically causes swelling of the leg and pain.

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.

How are DVT and superficial thrombophlebitis diagnosed?
Physicians diagnose DVT using ultrasound scanning, which shows the size and location of the blood clot.

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.

What are the treatment options for DVT and superficial thrombophlebitis?

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.

For more information or to make an appointment with a vascular surgeon at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, click here to fill out an appointment scheduling form. A staff member will get back to you within 48 hours to schedule an appointment.

Sited for exemplary outcomes in the treatment of DVT by The American College of Surgeons (ACS)

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