Deep Vein Problems
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
The body has two networks of veins in the arms and legs, the deep and superficial venous systems. The deep veins lie next to arteries, nerves, muscle, and bone, and carry the majority of blood flow back to the heart. Blood clots may form in the deep veins of the leg from a variety of causes:
- Protein Abnormalities in the blood causing it to be "too thick"
- Prolonged immobility from long plane flights, major surgery, trauma, or disability
Some DVT’s may actually break loose from the vein wall and float up to the heart and lungs, lodging in the lung artery as a pulmonary embolism (PE).
A DVT will cause significant swelling, redness, and pain in the leg below the level of the clot, most often in the calf. This usually occurs in only one leg. If a PE occurs, there may be sudden sharp chest pain along with shortness of breath. If large enough, a PE may even by life-threatening. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please go to your nearest emergency room as soon as possible.
DVT and PE are serious medical conditions that need to be treated in the hospital. The usual treatment is a combination of blood thinners that may need to be continued for several months or longer. The cause of the DVT/PE also needs to be investigated. If the DVT/PE is large enough, it may be necessary to perform one or more interventions by a vascular surgeon:
- Dissolve the clot with medications and remove it from the vein
- Open up a narrowed leg or pelvic vein with a balloon or stent
- Place a filter in the vena cava to prevent DVT migration to the lungs
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)
Many DVT’s will heal on their own with time and blood thinners. Unfortunately, the DVT may cause damage to the one-way valves in the deep veins, leading to backward blood flow (“reflux” or “insufficiency”). Instead of flowing from the foot back to the heart, blood may flow back down the leg through broken valves, causing high venous pressure.
This high pressure may cause leg swelling, spider veins, varicose veins, skin thickening, brownish skin discoloration, and even skin ulceration. If any of these are present, your doctor will order a vein duplex ultrasound to diagnose the specific problem. Treatment of these various problems depends on the specific cause, and may include any combination of treatments offered at Marina Laser Vein Center. Some patients need no intervention other than counseling and a compression stocking for the leg.