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Vein thrombosis (VT): Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About vein thrombosis

The term refers to a blood clot (thrombus) in a vein usually in the thigh or leg.

Vein thrombosis: Incidence, age and sex

The exact incidence of vein thrombosis is unknown because most vein thrombosis is occult and usually resolves spontaneously without complication. Existing data suggests that about 80 cases per 100,000 population occur annually. Approximately 1 person in 20 will develop a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the course of his or her lifetime .It is more common in people with ages above 60 years.

Signs & symptoms of vein thrombosis: Diagnosis

Vein thrombosis causes calf pain, swelling, warmth, redness and engorged veins. On palpation, the muscle may be tender and there is calf pain on upward flexion of the foot. Deep veins of the lower limb may be scanned using duplex Doppler ultrasound to assess flow and thromboses.

Causes and prevention of vein thrombosis

Long stretches of time spent immobilized in the cramped seat of an aircraft with very low humidity sets the stage for formation of a blood clot in the leg.

The other risk factors for vein thrombosis include recent surgery, particularly pelvic and lower limb surgery, immobilisation, trauma, oral contraceptive pill, obesity, heart failure& cancer.

Measures to prevent vein thrombosis in patients with risk factors include early mobilization ,hydration ,compression stockings, low molecular weight heparin as prophylaxis after pelvic & lower limb surgeries and use of stockings, and calf pumps. No method or prophylaxis is foolproof.

Vein thrombosis: Complications

If untreated, VT may result in chronic venous insufficiency, as a result of venous valvular damage. The clot can break off as an embolus and make its way to the lung, where it can cause respiratory distress and respiratory failure which may be fatal.

Vein thrombosis: Treatment

Treatment with intravenous heparin initially, followed by longer-term warfarin, should be started immediately.

In some patients with vein thrombosis, a caval filter may be required to decrease the possibility of pulmonary embolism.