- Blood clots in the leg become more serious if they dislodge and move to the heart and other organs.
The formation of blood clots in one of the deep veins in the leg may not be entirely serious alone. However, if the clot breaks off and moves towards the heart and other organs, it may lead to complications. Blood clots in the leg may cause leg pain but may also not cause any symptoms at all. Several treatment options are now available ranging from medications to surgery.
Any treatment of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) focuses on factors including:
- Preventing the growth of the blood clot
- Preventing the breaking off the clot from the leg
- Reducing the chances of DVT recurrence
- Avoiding complications like swelling and pain
Some of the common treatment options of DVT are:
- Blood thinners – This is one of the most common treatment options for DVT. These drugs prevent the ability for blood to clot. These drugs may not be effective in preventing blood clots from breaking off, but they do prevent further growth of the clot. It also reduces the chances of more clots. The two most common anticoagulants recommended are heparin and warfarin. These medications have some side effects, like increased bleeding, and should be taken as per the instructions of the doctor.
- Catheter-directed thrombolysis – Under normal conditions, a blood clot in the vein may be dissolved over a period of time, but may inhibit blood flow in the vessel in the meantime. Clot busting drugs are usually recommended in such cases to remove the clot. These clot-busting drugs are called as thrombolytic agent. Thrombolytic agents are used in case of large clots, and for those who have high risk of pulmonary embolism. These drugs break the clot and restore the flow of the blood. In this procedure, a small catheter is inserted into the affected veins and the clot-busting drug is introduced directly into it. If the vein is narrowed, balloon angioplasty is suggested to increase the space within the blood vessels to prevent blockage of blood flow.
- Vena cava filters – These are small metal filters that hold back blood clots and prevent them from moving to other parts of the body. These filters allow normal flow of blood through the vessel. These filters are inserted into the main vein of the body, the vena cava, which carries blood back to the heart from the legs.
- Elevation and compression – Keeping the affected leg in a raised position and applying a compression device provides relief from the symptoms of DVT. Graduated compression stockings help to prevent swelling, pain and other symptoms.
- Venous thrombectomy – In some cases, surgery is recommended to remove clot in the vein. This is usually opted for if the DVT does not respond well to other types of treatment.