Deep Vein Thrombosis

This information is useful for adults and older adults
Why Yale Medicine?
  • We treat existing symptoms and focus on preventing future blood clots.
  • Our interventional radiologists offer multidisciplinary, collaborative care.
  • Our radiology and biomedical imaging department is among the best in the nation.

Sometimes people develop a blood clot after surgery or after sitting still for a long period of time such as on a multi-hour plane ride. The condition is called deep vein thrombosis. 

It happens when a blood clot—the medical term is "thrombus"—develops in a deep vein of the body. It occurs most commonly in the legs.

If the blood clot travels to the heart and lungs, it can cause pulmonary embolism—the sudden blocking of an artery to the lung. Combined deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms are referred to as venous thromboembolisms, which is diagnosed in about two million Americans each year, claiming more than 100,000 lives annually.

When a clot develops in a deep vein, it can block circulation. This can cause the limb to swell because blood can’t easily return to the heart. The swelling starts out mild, so it's common for people who have a DVT to not even be aware that a problem is developing.

The first symptoms may include pain, limb heaviness or a warm sensation in the area where the clot develops. With severe DVT, swelling increases and becomes more noticeable. The limb can become discolored, turning red or blue. These changes mean the leg or arm is starved for blood. This is a medical emergency; it can cause the loss of the limb or even death.  

Clinical Trials

New treatments for many conditions are tested in clinical trials, which ultimately bring lifesaving new drugs and devices to the patients who need them most. By participating in a clinical trial, you may get access to the most advanced treatments for your condition, and help determine their benefits for future patients.