DVT: Deep Vein Thrombosis

Definition: DVT, or deep vein thrombosis, is a blood clot that forms in a vein, typically in the leg. A DVT is more common after surgery because surgical patients typically do not walk as much as normal, and because veins can be damaged during surgery. DVTs are also commonly associated with air travel, as the extended periods of time seated in one position can contribute to the formation of a clot.

A DVT is typically treated by giving anticoagulants, drugs that "thin" the blood and reduce the chance of clotting. Many DVTs will dissolve slowly over time. In some cases, surgery may be required to remove the clot. For most patients, a DVT that is properly treated will resolve in a matter of weeks or months.

A DVT can become serious if it begins to travel through the veins of the body. Once a clot reaches the heart, it can be pumped through the blood stream to the lungs, where a life-threatening pulmonary embolism can result, or the brain, causing a stroke.

Many patients receive blood thinners after surgery to prevent DVTs from forming. Heparin, Coumadin and Lovenox are commonly used during the first days of recovery.

A DVT in the leg may result in pain in the area of the clot, swelling that makes one leg larger than the other, a sensation of heat over the sight and leg cramping. There may also be numbness or tingling in the toes.

Also Known As: blood clot, deep vein thrombosis, DVT, blood clots, thrombosis, deep vein clot,

Examples: The patient was worried that she would develop a clot if she didn't walk more during her recovery from surgery.

Continue Reading