Blood Clots

The delicate balance of making and preventing blood clots can be upset by either internal or external factors. Both the deep and superficial veins can develop blood clots, and when these clots occur patients often feel pain, swelling, heaviness or discomfort in the leg.

Woman and a man laying on deck with healthy legs

The consequences and management of leg blood clots depend largely on the location of the clot, the patient’s symptoms and the associated medical problems.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) are blood clots in the deep veins of the leg and may be life-threatening, especially if they migrate to the heart and lungs. Superficial clots pose less of a risk to patients but are often painful, take many weeks to resolve and frequently indicate underlying problems with varicose veins.

Awareness and diagnosis are the keys to successful treatment of venous blood clots. Venous duplex ultrasound is the diagnostic test most commonly used to evaluate leg veins, as it is non-invasive, accurate and gives essential information for making decisions regarding treatment.

It should be noted that blood clots in the veins are not the type of blood clots that cause strokes. Such clots occur in the arteries.

Types of Blood Clots and Treatments:

  • Superficial Thrombophlebitis (phlebitis - blood clots in the superficial veins of the leg) are often reduced through anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen. Extensive phlebitis may be treated with blood thinners to prevent clot growth. If venous reflux is found to be the cause, endovenous ablation of the saphenous vein will treat the phlebitis.

  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) may be treated with blood thinners (anticoagulants), which will prevent clot growth. Blood clot dissolvers (thrombolytics) can help the body break up the clots in some cases of DVT, though they come with the risk of bleeding.

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