Your deep veins, one of the three types of veins in your circulatory system, play a big role in pushing blood back to your heart. Deep veins are surrounded by muscle and bone, but unfortunately, these blood vessels aren’t immune to blood clots.
When this happens, it’s called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). They can form in any deep vein, including the legs. DVTs can cause swelling, warmth, and cramping and left untreated, DVTs can increase your risk of pulmonary embolisms, a potentially life-threatening condition.
The key to addressing the symptoms of DVT as well as reducing your risk of the complications of one is to first confirm that you have one. Here at Excel Diagnostics & Nuclear Oncology Center, Dr. Ebrahim Delpassand and our team detect deep vein thrombosis using ultrasound technology.
Here’s what you need to know.
Is an ultrasound the best option for detecting DVTs?
Yes, ultrasounds 一 specifically a venous ultrasound 一 is the gold standard imaging test for diagnosing acute deep venous thrombosis (DVT), according to research published in the journal Circulation.
Ultrasounds use sound waves to capture real-time images of your vascular structures. The images can reveal:
- Narrowed blood vessels
- Blockages, including blood clots and plaque
- Changes in your blood flow
The team at Excel Diagnostics & Nuclear Oncology Center implements ultrasound technology to both confirm the presence of a DVT and identify its severity.
How do you know if you need an ultrasound?
If you have any warning signs of a DVT, it’s best to reach out for medical intervention. The most common signs and symptoms include:
- Throbbing and/or cramping in one leg (usually in your calf or thigh)
- Warm skin
- Tender skin
- Dark or discolored area (near the warmth and swelling)
Your Excel Diagnostics provider will order the ultrasound for you. If you’re at risk for developing a DVT, it’s good practice to learn the symptoms so you can spot them quickly. Risk factors include having a family or personal history of DVT, leading a sedentary life, long-term bed rest, and having certain medical conditions, including cancer.
Note: if you have the above symptoms and are breathless, it’s best to call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room as these can be signs of a pulmonary embolism 一 a serious condition in which the blood clot breaks free and blocks a blood vessel in your lungs. You will likely have an ultrasound and other tests in the emergency room.
What to expect during your ultrasound
Ultrasounds are noninvasive tests, which means you won’t have to worry about any injections or incisions. During your ultrasound, relax on an exam table while our team first applies a gel. Because sound waves don’t travel as well through air, the gel limits the air between your leg and the transducer, a handheld device that emits the sound waves. With the gel in place, the sound waves travel to your organs and bounce back, creating accurate and detailed images of your vascular structures.
You may need additional ultrasounds to assess how treatments are working or to monitor for additional blood clots. However, there is no downtime, and you’re free to continue on with your day.
If you’re concerned about a DVT or if you need to schedule an ultrasound, call us at 713-781-6200.