Deep vein thrombosis

Also known as: DVT
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot (thrombus) in a deep vein, usually in the legs.

Clots can form in superficial veins and in deep veins. Blood clots with inflammation in superficial veins (called superficial thrombophlebitis or phlebitis) rarely cause serious problems. But clots in deep veins (deep vein thrombosis) require immediate medical care. See pictures of a developing blood clot and the leg veins.

These clots are dangerous because they can break loose, travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, and block blood flow in the lungs (pulmonary embolism). A pulmonary embolism is often life-threatening. DVT can also lead to long-lasting problems. DVT may damage the vein and cause the leg to ache, swell, and change color. It can also lead to leg sores after years of having a DVT.

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