An explanation of deep vein thrombosis – which is also referred to as a DVT – was provided in a recent article. The potential for this form of a blood clot to also cause a pulmonary embolism – which is referred to as a PE – was also examined in that same article. These conditions can occur as an unwanted complication following surgery, and the serious nature of this development if it does take place, supplies the rationale for reviewing DVTs and PEs once again.
The continual flow of blood that usually occurs throughout our body can sometimes be interrupted if we experience a health issue. This includes injuries or accidents that involve bleeding. In those situations, our plasma proteins and blood platelets will respond by developing a thick gel-like mass. This process will protect us from further bleeding by sealing the area in which the injury or accident took place.
While this is usually a favorable development that shields us from excessive bleeding, the clotting can sometimes take place even though no injury or accident initiated the process. One example of this scenario takes place when your blood interacts with your blood vessel wall, which can activate the building of platelets. This, in turn, will decelerate the flow of blood.
That can create a blood clot, and if this entire sequence emerges in a deep vein within the lower leg or thigh, it is referred to as the aforementioned deep vein thrombosis or DVT. The formation of a DVT then becomes even more problematic if the clot advances from the leg or thigh into your lungs or heart.
That is the definition of a pulmonary embolism (PE) which creates a far more serious situation. According to the American Society of Hematology, up to 900,000 individuals in the U.S. encounter a DVT on an annual basis, while around 100,000 people will die as the result of this condition.
DVTs and PEs After Surgery
Unfortunately, the formation of DVTs that eventually evolve into PEs can also take place in the aftermath of major surgery – especially if the surgery was located near your abdomen, legs, pelvis or hips. This can ensue due to the extended period of inactivity that transpires after a surgical process.
Being forced to remain in bed will cause your blood to flow more slowly in your deep veins, which can result in a clot. If this unwelcome development takes place, it will often emerge anywhere from 2-10 days following your surgery.
If some type of foreign matter is released into the bloodstream during the surgery, then your blood will also respond by progressing through the process of thickening that was described earlier. Either of these scenarios can result in the creation of a DVT that automatically possesses the potential of developing into a PE.
Your chances of experiencing a DVT following surgery increase if you have encountered a DVT previously, if you smoke, or if you are overweight or obese. The risk of a DVT will also rise if you are pregnant, are an older adult, have family members with a history of DVTs, or if you have a blood disorder that impacts your veins or your blood. Specific types of cancer can also increase your chances of dealing with a DVT after a surgical procedure.
Reducing The Risks of DVTs Following Surgery
The factors that increase the risk of a DVT or PE also provide you with a blueprint for reducing your personal risk if weight issues, smoking, pregnancy, a family history of DVTs, or a personal history of blood disorder are present in your particular case.
That involves abstaining from smoking prior to surgery and working diligently on decreasing your weight in advance of any procedure. You can also wear elastic compression stockings that diminish the chances that blood will clot, and perform simple leg movements while in bed in order to keep your blood flowing.
You can also ask your physician about medication that is specifically designed to thin your blood, which would also reduce your risk of a DVT or PE.
Symptoms Of DVTs And PEs
While around 50% of all patients who experience a DVT will not encounter noticeable symptoms, those who observe the effects of a DVT might contend with pain, swelling, redness or warmth in their leg, along with discolored skin or protruding veins.
If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to contact your doctor immediately.
The symptoms of a PE are more severe, as is the critical nature of your situation if they emerge. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you have encountered a medical emergency that requires an immediate call to 911:
- Difficulty Breathing
- Chest Pain
- Coughing Up Blood
- Extreme Sweating
- Back Pain
- Feeling Lightheaded
At Orthopedic Associates, We Are Here To Help
Are you concerned that you might be experiencing the symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis? Or do you have any questions about these blood clots, or possibly about an upcoming surgery? The professionals at Orthopedic Associates are ready to provide you with their expertise toward answering any of your questions or concerns. Our team of physicians has a combined 183 years of experience, which is beneficial in their ability to design effective treatment plans for DVTs, along with any other issues that might be occurring with your leg, or knee.
Our specialists at Orthopedic Associates also treat a wide range of other knee conditions, including:
- Anatomy of the Knee
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear (ACL Tear)
- Avascular Necrosis (Osteonecrosis) of the Knee
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
- Fractures of the Tibial Spine
- Goosefoot (Pes Anserine) Bursitis of the Knee
- Hamstring Muscle Injuries
- Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)
- Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Injury
- Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury
- Meniscus Tear
- Osgood-Schlatter Disease
- Osteoarthritis of the Knee
- Osteochondritis Dissecans of the Knee
- Patella Fracture (Broken Knee Cap)
- Patella Tendon Rupture
- Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee)
- Patellar Tracking Disorder
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee)
- Prepatellar Bursitis (Kneecap Bursitis)
- Quadriceps Tendon Tear
- Septic Arthritis of the Knee
- Shin Splints (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome)
- Supracondylar Femoral Fracture
- Tibial Fractures
- Tibial Plateau Fracture
- Torn Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL)
Even if leg or knee issues are not your primary concern, we also offer multiple solutions for a wide range of conditions – both with or without surgery. Visit one of Orthopedic Associates two locations or request an appointment today. We are fully committed to paving the path toward a pain-free life for you.