Deep Vein Thrombosis

Off to the doctor, quickly

With thrombosis, a blood clot (thrombus) blocks a blood vessel, so that only little blood, if any, can flow through the vessel. Therefore, you must consult your doctor in case of any suspicion of a deep vein thrombosis.

Blood clots form primarily in the veins of the legs and pelvis. These blood vessels collect the blood from the feet, the legs and the pelvis and transport it back to the heart. A deep vein thrombosis must be treated by a doctor immediately.

The risk of a pulmonary embolism occurring is particularly high if the deep veins of the leg are affected. A thrombus in the affected vein becomes dislodged and is swept into the lung by the blood flow, where it can block a vessel. In contrast, if the same thing happens in one of the superficial veins in the legs, the clot first has to meander in the direction of the deep leg veins, which is less risky.

Compression treatment

After a patient has been diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis, compression garments are indicated alongside the treatment with drugs. These exert mechanical pressure on the veins from the outside. They decrease the diameter of the vein and the blood flows back to the heart more quickly. The pressure on the leg follows a controlled gradient: it is strongest at the ankle and decreases up the leg. At a later date, doctors will check the extent to which return transport of the blood is still impaired. The doctor can then advise you whether the compression treatment has to be continued or whether you can stop wearing the garments.

The most common symptoms are

Aching, dragging pain

Redness or blue discolouration of the skin

Feeling of tension and swelling

A thrombosis can occur in the groin, in the thigh, in the hollow of the knee, in the calf or in the sole of the foot. Standing and walking are then especially painful.

A blood clot can form if

the blood's flow rate slows down, for example, during confinement to bed or on long-haul flights

the walls of the blood vessel have changed

the blood has a high clotting susceptibility.

The blood flows more slowly in veins than in arteries, which is why thromboses occur above all in the veins. The deep veins in the calf and thigh are mostly affected by deep vein thrombosis (phlebothrombosis).

Rapid diagnosis and treatment of deep vein thrombosis are required to prevent a pulmonary embolism. Examination of the painful region and measurements of a special blood parameter in the laboratory corroborate the diagnosis of suspected thrombosis. The doctor uses Doppler and duplex ultrasonography to localise a deep vein thrombosis exactly before treating it.