Deep Vein Thrombosis



DVT can be caused by:

  • Injury to a vein
  • Slow blood flow and blood pooling in a vein
  • Blood clotting problems

Risk Factors

The risk of DVT increases with age. Other things that raise the risk are:

  • Major surgery
  • Trauma or fracture
  • Personal or family history of DVT
  • Not being able to move, such as with bed rest or airplane travel
  • Changes in hormones due to pregnancy, birth control pills, or estrogen therapy
  • Medical conditions, such as:
    • Cancer
    • Obesity
    • Heart failure and heart attack
    • Some kidney diseases
    • Inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and Behcet disease
    • Blood disorders
  • Having a catheter in a central vein



DVT does not always cause symptoms. When symptoms happen, they may be:

  • Pain in the affected area
  • Swelling of a leg or arm
  • Tenderness along the vein, especially near the thigh
  • Redness, paleness, or blueness of the affected leg or arm

Some may not have any symptoms until the clot moves to the lungs. This condition is called a pulmonary embolism.


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done.

To diagnose DVT, the doctor may test blood and blood flow with:

  • Blood tests
  • Compression venous ultrasound
  • Venography



The goals of treatment are to:

  • Stop the clot from growing
  • Dissolve the clot, if possible
  • Prevent other problems, such as a pulmonary embolism and more clots

Treatment options are:

  • Blood thinning medicine by IV or shots—to prevent DVT. It may be used for a long time.
  • Medicine delivered to the site using a catheter and x-rays—to dissolve clots. It is given for clots that are large, serious, or in an arm.
  • Compression stockings—worn on the legs to help with blood flow.

For large and serious clots, surgery may be done, such as:

  • Thrombectomy—the clot is taken out.
  • Inserting an inferior vena cava filter—a small device is placed in a vein. It prevents a blood clot from going to the lungs.


To help lower the risk of DVT:

  • Do not sit for long periods of time. Get up and move around.
  • If confined to bed, move arms and legs often. Change positions at least every 2 hours.
  • Carefully follow any treatment if you had a DVT before.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.