Venous testing for suspected deep vein thrombosis, muscular vein thrombosis or phlebitis
Venous ultrasound testing for a suspected thrombus (blood clot) is quick, easy and painless and it does not involve radiation. It is also very reliable.
What does the testing involve?
“Thrombi” are blood clots in the veins. Anyone can develop them and they generally form in the veins of the legs. They cause symptoms wherever they form. If the blood clots move throughout the body, for instance from the right side of the heart into the lung, they can be life-threatening. When blood clots block pulmonary (lung) vessels, a pulmonary embolism may occur. For this reason, a suspected thrombus must be diagnosed as soon as possible.
Testing for blood clots is no longer performed with X-rays and contrast agents. Instead, Doppler ultrasound is the very reliable and effective test of choice. Dr. Schwarz performed his own clinical studies at the University of Dresden. These were recognized globally by vascular specialists 10 years ago. And these studies have contributed to the recognition of ultrasound testing as a reliable and effective method for blood clot testing. Dr. Schwarz has a wealth of experience with venous ultrasound testing, having performed well over 10,000 exams to date. His results have been published and his margin of error is close to 0%.
What does the procedure involve?
The test takes no more than 10 minutes. Most blood clots are located in the leg veins. The lower legs are examined with the patient seated, while the upper legs are examined with the patient lying on his or her back. To detect thrombosis, the veins are compressed. If the veins cannot be compressed with the ultrasound transducer, this is a sign of thrombosis. And treatment can be initiated immediately.
When is testing indicated?
Typical clinical signs of thrombosis include swelling of an extremity, leg pain, shiny skin due to congestion, as well as redness and warmth of the extremity. Most cases of deep vein thrombosis occur in the lower leg. Here, symptoms generally include pain in the calf without swelling of the leg. If the patient experiences calf pain, ultrasound testing should be ordered to prevent further complications such as pulmonary embolism. Inflammation of the vein, or “phlebitis”, occurs in the superficial veins and should also be taken seriously. Here, too, ultrasound testing produces highly reliable results.
How do I prepare for testing?
You do not need to fast before you undergo testing. The test is quick and does not pose any risk to the patient. If deep vein thrombosis is diagnosed, treatment can be initiated immediately.
Treating deep vein thrombosis
Our practice offers treatment for deep vein thrombosis based on the latest guidelines. And of course we work closely with your general practitioner. If deep vein thrombosis is diagnosed, blood thinners, or “anticoagulation” must be initiated immediately. Oral medication is now available for this purpose, which means that for many patients treatment is needle-free. Studies, including those performed by Dr. Schwarz, have shown that inpatient treatment is no longer required to treat deep vein thrombosis. Of course, there are always exceptions, for instance, for patients with blood clots exclusively in the pelvic veins.
Some patients with thombophlebitis, i.e. blood clots in the superficial veins, also require anticoagulation. This treatment requires precise ultrasound diagnosis to detect the degree of inflammation. In many cases, a thrombectomy may be effective. This is a minor procedure that should provide immediate relief for the patient. It involves aspirating the clot and removing it immediately. We also offer this procedure in our practice.
Dr. Schwarz has also performed extensive academic research on muscular vein thrombosis. This condition involves a small blood clot in the calf muscles. The patient will often complain of calf pain. Our practice offers rapid diagnostic testing for this type of pain. If needed, we can also initiate treatment.
All patients with acute thrombosis require compression treatment, usually with compression stockings. We provide instructions for compression treatment in our practice.