Deep Vein Thrombosis

Preventing Deep Vein Thrombosis

Because of the potential serious consequences of DVT, prevention is essential. The possibility of DVT is on every surgeon’s mind, and surgeons aim aggressively to prevent it.

Thus, doctors urge patients who have undergone surgery to get out of bed and walk as soon as possible. Also, post-surgical patients are asked to wear anti-embolism stockings (lightweight, stretchy hose that cover the leg from the toes to the top of the thigh) while lying in bed.

Other measures include:

  • Low-dose, intravenous (an injection made directly into a vein) heparin therapy beginning just before a major surgical procedure and continuing for a few days thereafter, particularly for those at risk. Heparin is a drug that helps prevent blood clotting.
  • Intermittent pneumatic leg compression. This procedure uses an inflated cuff to squeeze the muscles in the affected leg. The action helps improve blood flow in deep veins.
  • Low-dose oral anticoagulant therapy. Aspirin and/or the blood-thinning drug warfarin are typically used in this treatment.
  • Intravenous administration of a modified form of heparin (low molecular weight heparin). This treatment is especially useful in patients who have undergone elective hip and/or knee surgery.
  • Compression stocking. Patients are usually advised to put the stockings on before they get out of bed and to wear them all day.

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