To diagnose deep vein thrombosis, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms. You'll also have a physical exam so that your doctor can check for areas of swelling, tenderness or discoloration on your skin. Depending on how likely you are to have a blood clot, your doctor might suggest tests, including:
Ultrasound. A wandlike device (transducer) placed over the part of your body where there's a clot sends sound waves into the area. As the sound waves travel through your tissue and reflect back, a computer transforms the waves into a moving image on a video screen. A clot might be visible in the image.
Sometimes a series of ultrasounds are done over several days to determine whether a blood clot is growing or to check for a new one.
- Blood test. Almost all people who develop severe deep vein thrombosis have an elevated blood level of a substance called D dimer.
- Venography. A dye is injected into a large vein in your foot or ankle. An X-ray creates an image of the veins in your legs and feet, to look for clots. However, less invasive methods of diagnosis, such as ultrasound, can usually confirm the diagnosis.
- CT or MRI scans. Either can provide visual images of your veins and might show if you have a clot. Sometimes these scans performed for other reasons reveal a clot.
July 12, 2017
- Deep vein thrombosis. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/dvt/. Accessed March 21, 2017.
- Kearon C, et al. Clinical presentation and diagnosis of the nonpregnant adult with suspected deep vein thrombosis of the lower extremity. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 21, 2017.
- Deep vein thrombosis. Vascular Disease Foundation. http://vasculardisease.org/about-vascular-disease/2011-05-05-02-02-59/deep-vein-thrombosis-dvt. Accessed March 22, 2017.
- Lip GYH, et al. Overview of the treatment of lower extremity deep vein thrombosis (DVT). https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 21, 2017.
- DVT/PE facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/dvt/facts.html. Accessed March 21, 2017.
- Diagnosis and treatment: DVT. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/dvt/diagnosis-treatment.html. Accessed March 22, 2017.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)