VTE / Venous Thromboembolism

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Modified on 2009/10/14 21:53 by admin
VTE / Venous Thromboembolism

venous thromboembolism

venous thromboembolism


vascular system of the upper leg

Venous thromboembolism is a clinical condition also termed deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism. Both represent conditions in which platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells converge to form a gelatinous thrombosis inside the human circulatory system. About 70% of VTE cases occur in the calf, leg, and pelvic area.

The human body has two systems of veins, the deep system and the superficial system. The superficial veins comprise veins just beneath the skin that one can see on arms or legs, and deep veins are inner veins that carry blood through muscles. These inner veins are connected to the outer vein system by a series of connector veins. By alternating blood flow between the deep system and the superficial system, the human body is able to control its core temperature.

There are some conditions whose symptoms mirror those of a venous thromboembolism. Onset of deep vein thrombosis can be characterized by leg pain, swelling and sensitivity. VTE is also characterized by heightened warmth in the body part affected by thrombosis. Sensitivity or pain upon having one’s blood pressure measured is another clinical sign of potential thrombosis. Other injuries that mimic typical symptoms of DVT are muscle injuries and muscle strain, and generalized tissue inflammation of the leg or pelvic region.

A physician can clinically diagnose a VTE by means of several tests. The vein can be tested by a non-invasive ultrasound probe as well as through more invasive venography. Venography has the potential to cause inflammation of the veins, however, so ultrasound is currently the preferred method of testing for VTEs. Ultrasound probes are safer and are able to diagnose the overwhelming majority of venous thromboembolisms that have formed in the upper body.

Clinical evaluation of a pulmonary embolism is somewhat more complicated, and may require various methods of evaluation. Some of the methods currently used for such evaluation are pulmonary angiography, nuclear medicine lung scans, and spiral CT scans.

Treatment of VTEs typically requires the use of blood thinners to wear down the thromboembolism. Two of the most common blood thinners used for this purpose are heparin and warfarin.
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