Deep vein thrombosis is a term that describes what happens when a blood clot forms in a vein deep inside a part of the body. It mainly affects the large veins in the lower leg and thigh.

DVT mainly affects the large veins in the lower leg and thigh, almost always on one side of the body. The clot can block blood flow. Symptoms include:

  • Changes in skin color (redness)
  • Leg Pain
  • Skin that feels warm to the touch
  • Swelling

How to treat DVT

Your physician will determine if you need medicine to thin your blood (an anticoagulant). Anticoagulants can keep more clots from forming or old ones from getting bigger. These drugs can’t dissolve clots you already have. In some cases, your physician may determine that additional treatment is necessary.

Interventional radiologists can treat patients with deep vein thrombosis through:

  • Angioplasty
  • Catheter-directed thrombolysis
  • Stenting of vein obstructions

Angioplasty is a procedure to restore blood flow through the artery. With help of imaging guidance, the radiologist threads a catheter (thin tube) through a blood vessel in the arm or groin up to the involved site in the artery. The tube has a tiny balloon on the end. When the tube is in place, the doctor inflates the balloon to push the plaque outward against the wall of the artery. This widens the artery and restores blood flow.

Catheter-directed thrombolysis is performed under imaging guidance by Interventional radiologists. This procedure is designed to rapidly break up the clot, restore blood flow within the vein and potentially preserve valve function to minimize the risk of post-thrombotic syndrome. The radiologist inserts a catheter into the leg vein and threads it into the vein containing the clot using imaging guidance. The end of the catheter is placed into the clot and a “clot-busting” drug is delivered directly to the clot.

Stenting is a small mesh tube that’s used to treat narrow or weak arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from your heart to other parts of your body. A stent is placed in an artery as part of a procedure called angioplasty. Angioplasty restores blood flow through narrow or blocked arteries. A stent helps support the inner wall of the artery in the months or years after angioplasty. Your physician may also place stents in weak arteries to improve blood flow and help prevent the arteries from bursting.