Sometimes, blood clots can form in the deep veins of the body, typically in the legs. This condition is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. If the blood clot breaks free from the vein in which it formed, it can travel to other parts of the body and cause life-threatening complications such as pulmonary embolism. Many of the risk factors of DVT are the same as the risk factors for varicose veins and spider veins, such as obesity, pregnancy, and injury to the veins. If you have suspected DVT, a vein specialist in Houston can perform medical tests to confirm the diagnosis.
The vein specialist will begin your appointment by reviewing your medical history. You will be asked to disclose your pre-existing medical conditions, along with any prescribed drugs, over-the-counter medicines, or herbal supplements you may be taking.
Next, the doctor will ask you about your symptoms. DVT doesn’t always cause noticeable symptoms, but when it does, patients may experience swelling and pain in the affected leg. Most often, the pain develops in the calf muscle. It typically feels like muscle cramping. The doctor will also perform a physical exam and may notice that one calf muscle looks larger than the other.
Blood tests are commonly used to diagnose DVT. In almost all cases, patients with DVT show elevated levels of a substance called D dimer. D dimer is a clot-dissolving substance that the body releases in response to the breaking up of a blood clot.
Ultrasound tests use sound waves to develop real-time images of the internal structures of the body. You may already be familiar with the use of ultrasound in prenatal care, but it has other uses as well. Your doctor can place a special gel on the calf muscle or other area where a blood clot is thought to be. Then, a transducer is placed on the skin and moved around. The transducer transmits sound waves, which are used to create the images. Your vein specialist may need to perform multiple ultrasound tests over time to determine whether the blood clot is getting larger.