Deep Vein Thrombosis

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  • Topic: Deep vein thrombosis, Vein, Thrombus
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|Deep Vein Thrombosis | | | |Anatomy and Physiology 11 | | | |4/13/2010 | | | |Patricia Libby |

Deep Vein Thrombosis, also called (DVT or blood clots) occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein. Thus, that’s where it gets its name from. Part of a clot may break off and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs causing a pulmonary embolism (PE) and possibly, death. Both Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism are a major public health problem in the United States. Estimates show that thousands of Americans have a DVT or PE each year and that at least 100,000 people die as a result. ( Lots of people who have a DVT or PE also have other complications that can greatly impact their quality of life.

Deep Vein Thrombosis is most common in the deep veins of the lower leg, (calf) area, and can spread up to the veins in your thigh. On the contrary, DVT can also first develop in the deep vein of your thigh, even more uncommon in other deep veins such as ones in your arm. Different people experience different complications and symptoms.

The exact incidence of DVT isn’t known, mainly because most studies done are limited by the innate inaccuracy of clinical diagnosis. Most DVT is unexplainable and usually resolves spontaneously without complications. Current information available (prone to underestimate the true cases of DVT), say about 80 cases per 100,000 of the population occur yearly.( That is equivalent to about 1 in 20 people that will develop a DVT at some point in their lives. Approximately 600,000 people are hospitalized yearly with DVT in the United States. (

There are three main ways in which DVT occurs. The first consists of decreased flow rate of the blood, secondly, damage to the blood vessels and lastly, an increased tendency of the blood to clot called (hypercoagulability). Aside from these three causes of DVT, there are several medical conditions that can lead to this condition such as compression of veins, physical trauma, cancer, infections, certain inflammatory diseases as well as specific conditions such as stroke, heart failure or nephrotic syndrome (kidney disease). There are several factors that can increase a person’s risk for DVT, including surgery, hospitalization, immobilization (such as having casts on), or during long haul flights. Other factors include smoking, being overweight, a person’s age and certain drugs (such as Estrogen). Pregnant women have an increased risk during pregnancy and during the postnatal period.

There are several ways in which a physical examination can help to detect DVT. Some examples would be: measuring the circumference of the affected limb at a fixed point, (this would rule out edema), and touching the area of the stomach and intestines which often are tender. You can’t however, count on a physical exam to rule out the diagnosis of Deep Vein Thrombosis.

A DVT can occur without any symptoms. In many cases however, the affected extremity will be painful, swollen, red, and warm, the superficial veins may be saturated with fluids. The most serious complication of a DVT is the fact that the clot could dislodge and travel to the lungs. Thus, a pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs. If it occurs in the lower extremities there’s a 3

Percent chance that...
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