Deep Vein Thrombosis - Diagnosis

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How is deep vein thrombosis diagnosed (DVT)?

The diagnosis of superficial thrombophlebitis is often made by the health care professional at the bedside of the patient, based upon the physical examination.


  • Ultrasound is now the standard method of diagnosing the presence of a deep vein thrombosis.
  • The ultrasound technician may be able to determine whether a clot exists, where it is located in the leg, and how large it is. Ultrasounds can be compared over time to see whether a clot has grown or resolved.
  • Ultrasound is better at "seeing" veins above the knee as compared to the veins below it.


D-dimer is a blood test that may be used as a screening test to determine if a blood clot exists. D-dimer is a chemical that is produced when a blood clot in the body gradually dissolves. The test is used as a positive or negative indicator. If the result is negative, then no blood clot exists. If the D-dimer test is positive, it does not necessarily mean that a deep vein thrombosis is present since many situations will have an expected positive result (for example, from surgery, a fall, or pregnancy). For that reason, D-dimer testing must be used selectively.

Other tests for DVT

  • Venography, injecting dye into the veins to look for a thrombus, is not usually performed any more and has become more of a historical footnote.
  • Other blood testing may be considered based on the potential cause for the deep vein thrombosis.
Return to Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

See what others are saying

Comment from: BO didlee, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: February 17

I had no symptoms of deep vein thrombosis and was only diagnosed by a sonogram for something else. I had portal vein thrombosis.

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Comment from: BettyCrockster, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 03

My background is that I'm an ordinary worker (60 plus hours a week). I woke up one morning in so much overall body pain that I couldn't move, and very cold. I finally made it to the couch, I was swaying back and forth because I was so cold. Then my body temperature went to 'freezing' mode and I started convulsing. I remember grabbing my heart, the pain was unbearable. I stayed like that for 5 days until I was able to drive to work. I thought I had bronchitis or something. I then drove to the clinic and was diagnosed with a heart attack and he directed me to go straight to the hospital. Ambulance service was refused by me. They did blood tests and a CAT scan of my body. They had diagnosed me with pulmonary embolism and pneumonia. I stayed in the hospital for 6 days. My INR was never right but they let me go home due to lack of insurance. Due to lack of insurance I had to stop all treatment after 3 weeks. I am now wondering if the deep vein thrombosis is still there. I know shortness of breath is a concern and I seem to have that.

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