Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
What Is DVT?
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in a deep vein that can travel to the heart or lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.
Causes of Deep Vein Thrombosis
A DVT may occur spontaneously or result from a prior condition or treatment, such as:
- Bed rest
- Oral contraceptives
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Genetic predisposition to blood clots
Symptoms of chronic or old DVT — called postphlebitic syndrome — include:
At the UPMC Division of Vascular Surgery, our doctors have experience in several advanced methods for treating DVT.
- Thrombolysis: medication delivered through a catheter to break up a blood clot. Thrombolysis is performed in the hospital under careful monitoring.
- Vena cava (IVC) filters: small, metal devices positioned in the vena cava — near the renal (kidney) veins — to stop blood clots in the legs before they can travel to the heart and lungs and cause pulmonary embolism.
- Venous stenting: tubes used to open clotted veins either immediately after clotting in conjunction with lysis, or years after a deep vein thrombosis. Venous stenting can quickly open veins and help relieve leg swelling. Stents can be made of nitinol or stainless steel, and are most commonly used in the vena cava or pelvic veins.
- Venous bypass: very rarely, it is necessary to perform a surgery to restore normal vein circulation, most often needed years after large deep vein clots. This procedure is available through the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute's Vein Center.
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