Deep Vein Thrombosis - Diagnosis

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How is deep vein thrombosis diagnosed?

The diagnosis of superficial thrombophlebitis is made clinically.

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.

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.

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 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: kitty, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 24

When I was 39 I sprained my ankle and dislocated a toe. I was told to do bed rest and elevate the ankle. One week after the sprain I started experiencing a lot of pain. I couldn't put pressure on my foot, anything that touches my leg I had a lot of pain and there was a lot of swelling. I went to the er again and told them about the symptoms, I was having and I was told what can you expect you dislocated your toe and sprained your ankle. Again I went back two days later as I couldn't take the pain anymore and there was a red line in front of my leg. Again I was told in the er that I was not doing bed rest etc. I refuse to leave and I told them they had to figure out what was wrong. They looked at me as if I was crazy. Another doctor was called a doppler was ordered they found 2 clots behind my calf. I was in hosp for over one week and 11 years later I still take meds. My leg was swollen for over 6 months. So if you feel that something is not correct. Don't stop until you get an answer.

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Comment from: Trooparun, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: November 14

I had painless swelling on my ankles and feet. I thought it would be normal due to my running sessions. However, it was pointed out by my wife that it does not seem normal and requires attention. The doctor prescribed a number of tests including kidney and heart functioning tests. All of the tests were normal and it was then that she linked it to smoking and coagulation if the blood.

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