Blood clots are diagnosed in different ways depending on your symptoms and medical history. A blood clot that forms in a vein residing deep in your body (deep vein thrombosis) is diagnosed using several tests, including ultrasound, blood tests, a venography, or a computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, according to Mayo Clinic.
Understanding Deep Vein Thrombosis
This type of blood clot typically forms in either the thigh or lower leg. The danger of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) lies in its potential to break loose and travel through your bloodstream. If the wandering clot ends up blocking a major lung artery, a condition called pulmonary embolism (PE) results.
PE is very dangerous and potentially life-threatening because it can permanently damage your lungs. Furthermore, a PE lowers your blood’s oxygen levels, and the organs that don’t get the oxygen he or she needs can also become damaged.
Causes and Risk Factors of Blood Clotting
Clots happen when your blood cannot circulate or clot the way it is supposed to clot. Simply not moving around enough can cause a blood clot. Other causes include certain types of medications, vein injuries, and surgery.
Various conditions, events, and lifestyle choices can also increase your risk of a blood clot.
- Oral contraceptives
- Being bed-ridden
- Age over 60
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Family history
- Heart failure
- Bowel disease
Symptoms of DVT That May Prompt a Diagnosis
DVT shows itself with a handful of signs and symptoms, but you could have DVT and not even be aware of it. Some symptoms to watch out for include:
- Cramping or soreness in your leg (often in the calf)
- Discoloration of your leg (usually red)
- Affected leg feels warm
If you experience these symptoms and are concerned they might be indicative of a blood clot, you should consider seeing your doctor for an evaluation.
However, if you show signs of a PE, Mayo Clinic recommends you see a doctor immediately as it can be fatal. These symptoms include:
- Suddenly becoming short of breath
- Rapid pulse
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting
- Pain in your chest, especially upon coughing or taking deep breaths
- Coughing up blood
When you visit a physician about your symptoms, he or she will talk to you about these symptoms, as well as your medical and family history. A medical professional will examine you for signs of tenderness, swelling, or skin discoloration.
After considering your specific situation and the doctor’s belief that you have a blood clot, your physician will recommend some tests to confirm and diagnose your condition.
Blood tests will be in order. Your doctor will want to check for elevated levels of D dimer, which is an indicator of potential DVT.
With an ultrasound test, a medical professional will place a transducer wand over the area where the clot is believed to exist. The wand will then emit sound waves that will work their way through your tissue then bounce back. This movement back and forth can be depicted as an image on a monitor. If you have a blood clot, it will show on the screen.
If an ultrasound is not conclusive or recommended for your situation, your doctor may order venography. With this procedure, a medical practitioner will inject a dye into a large vein in your ankle or your foot. The purpose of the dye is to highlight your veins so they are more easily viewed with an X-ray. Another option for locating a blood clot is a CT or MRI scan.
Treatment for Blood Clots and DVT
When your doctor recommends a specific type of treatment for your blood clot, it is one that the physician feels will keep the clot from increasing in size and from breaking loose and putting you at risk of a PE. These are the primary goals of DVT treatment. A secondary goal is to prevent the clot from reoccurring. Common DVT and blood clot treatments include:
Using these drugs, also referred to as “blood thinners,” can be administered as a shot or a pill. They interfere with your blood’s clotting ability. Although successful when managed properly, these medications can generate serious side effects, so it is critical that you have routine blood tests and that you closely follow your doctor’s instructions for administration.
Also called “clot busters,” these drugs are reserved for the most severe blood clots. Because they break up your blood clot, they can result in heavy bleeding, which can be dangerous.
Some people, for whatever reason, are unable to do anything that will thin their blood. These patients might have a filter inserted into their vena cava, which serves to block dislodged clots from getting stuck in your lungs.
To help prevent your blood from clotting, your doctor might suggest you wear compression socks for a couple of years. They apply pressure to thwart pooling and clotting.
If You Suffered Injury From a Blood Clot, We Can Help Get You Compensated
Sometimes a doctor fails to diagnose a blood clot or fails to act quickly on one he or she detects. Blood clots that are not diagnosed could lead to a catastrophic injury such as pulmonary embolism. If you or a loved one suffered catastrophic injuries due to a medical practitioner’s failure to diagnose a blood clot, the legal team at Pintas & Mullins can help you recover the damages to which you are entitled. Call us today at 866-513-0846 for a free case review and consultation.