DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS (DVT) – CAUSES AND TREATMENTS

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“Health is a large word. It embraces not the body only, but the mind and spirit as well; …and not today’s pain or pleasure alone, but the whole being and outlook of a man.”
James H. West

What Is Deep Vein Thrombosis? 

The human circulatory system is one of the marvels of the human body. Even though we can’t see it or feel it, there is blood rushing through our veins at very high speeds and pressures, in order to ensure that our entire body is nourished and healthy. In our extremities, the blood supply to our legs is facilitated by our arteries and our veins. Direct supply of fresh blood from our heart to our legs is via the arteries, and the veins are the vessels that carry blood back to the heart. 

Within the system of veins are two levels of blood flow. Closer to the surface of the veins are the superficial veins, and the veins that are located in the depths of the skin are known as the deep veins. When a blockage takes place in the deep vein system, this condition is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The location of these clots is usually in the calf or the thigh, though other parts of the body have been noted as well. Because the circulatory system is a dynamic one, the danger of DVT is that with enough pressure in the vein, a clot can actually circulate from the initial site of development, and travel through the body to a site such as the lungs. Lung blockages, known as pulmonary embolisms, can affect a patient’s life if they are un-noticed. 

Causes of DVT

As an outcome of a limitation in the circulatory system, there are actually a variety of root causes that can lead to the development of DVT. These factors include:

  • Hip, Leg or Abdominal Surgery predominantly
  • Trauma or bone fracture
  • Extensive bed rest in instances such as long haul flights or car travel
  • Cancer
  • Pregnancy
  • Birth control pills or hormones taken for symptoms of menopause
  • Varicose veins

Risk Factors for DVT [1]:

Blood or Vein conditions:

  • Previous DVT
  • Varicose veins
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Family history of DVT or blood clotting disorders 

Other medical conditions:

  • Heart disease
  • Chronic swelling of the legs
  • Obesity
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Cancer
  • Dehydration
  • Sepsis 

Women’s health issues:

  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Birth control pills containing estrogen
  • Pregnancy or recent childbirth 

Other:

  • Age over 40 years old
  • Immobility (through inactivity or from wearing a cast)
  • Recent surgery
  • Trauma (an injury)
  • Smoking 

Based on the criteria outlined above, you can identify if you fall into the category of DVT potential. Prevention is definitely more important than cure. There are many persons who have DVT, and have few or vague symptoms. Just like diabetes, this is a condition that involves careful observation of the body, in order to ensure that you are healthy and safe. As a patient, any abnormal signs such as swelling, pain or redness of the legs must be investigated by your orthopaedic surgeon. With a variety of diagnostic tools, body and leg scans can give a visual insight into what’s happening in the leg, and allow an individual to know their health status. 

At the indication of DVT, a patient is usually sent to a vascular specialist for testing via methodologies including blood test, Doppler ultrasound, MRI or an angiogram. 

Treatment of DVT

With the various available diagnostic tools, once your orthopaedic surgeon has identified if you have DVT, the treatment plan will then be created. Treatments include non-surgical, surgical methods or a combination of the two. A team of medical specialists will be called on if a surgery is to be performed to remove the clot. In the instance where preventative care and healing is concerned blood thinners and compression stockings are the primary methods utilized. 

Where possible, do take the time to ensure that your health is your priority. Take your medicines as prescribed, improve your diet and exercise and stop smoking. Because your circulatory system is a fluid based system, take the time to ensure that you’re drinking lots of water that will nourish you. Stay well. 

Reference: 

  1. Deep Vein Thrombosis: https://www.foothealthfacts.org/conditions/deep-vein-thrombosis-(dvt)

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Dr. Gordon Slater

Dr. Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions.

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Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS  has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.

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