Deep Vein Thrombosis (cont.)

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What are the symptoms of deep vein thrombosis?

Superficial thrombophlebitis

Blood clots in the superficial vein system most often occur due to trauma to the vein which causes a small blood clot to form. Inflammation of the vein and surrounding skin causes the symptoms of any other type of inflammation including:

  • redness,
  • warmth,
  • tenderness, and
  • swelling.

Often the affected vein can be palpated (felt) as a firm, thickened cord. There may be inflammation that follows the course of part of the vein.

Although there is inflammation, there is no infection.

Varicosities can predispose to superficial thrombophlebitis. When the valves of the larger veins in the superficial system fail (the greater and lesser saphenous veins), blood can back up and cause the veins to swell and become distorted or tortuous. The valves fail when veins lose their elasticity and stretch. This can be due to age, prolonged standing, obesity, pregnancy, and genetic factors.

Deep Venous Thrombosis

The symptoms of deep vein thrombosis are related to obstruction of blood returning to the heart and causing a backup of blood in the leg. Classically, symptoms include:

  • pain,
  • swelling,
  • warmth, and
  • redness.

Not all of these symptoms have to occur; one, all, or none may be present with a deep vein thrombosis. The symptoms may mimic an infection or cellulitis of the leg.

Historically, healthcare providers would try to elicit a couple of clinical findings to make a diagnosis. Dorsiflexion of the foot (pulling the toes towards the nose, or Homans' sign) and Pratt's sign (squeezing the calf to produce pain), have not been found effective in making a diagnosis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/29/2013

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