• DVT of the Upper Extremities

    Posted on January 18, 2016 by in dr joseph magnant, venous insufficiency

    Patient In Hospital BedWhile the majority of blood clots happen in the lower extremities of the legs, clots forming in the arms are not unheard of. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 10% of all reported DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) cases are of the upper extremities.


    What are the symptoms of an upper extremity deep vein thrombosis?


    • Pain
    • Paresthesia
    • weakness in the affected arm
    • Swelling
    • Pitting
    • Edema
    • Discoloration
    • Engorgement of superficial veins
    • *Thrombosis in the superior vena cava can cause facial swelling, nausea, as well as headache


    Approximately 2/3rds of the DVT cases considered within that 10% were in young males who had reported strenuous activity with that arm prior to the appearance of a clot. It has been noted by the Vascular Medicine Journal that DVT of the arms is usually related to effort, a rather benign disease.


    If DVT develops in an individual who is non active and has not been participating in overly strenuous activities it may lead their physician to run tests to rule out cancer. Because of the close proximity in location, upper body clots need to be carefully monitored and corrected as they carry a substantial risk of pulmonary embolism. The most common cause of upper extremity DVT in non-active individuals is placement of a central venous catheter, in particular PICC lines. Choosing the smallest diameter catheter necessary and careful attention to correct catheter tip position is the best preventative.


    How is DVT treated when in the upper area of the body?


    Once clots are detected, usually by way of non-invasive ultrasound, anticoagulation therapy is the most widely used remedy. 3-6 months is the standard course of treatment. Medications such as Heparin and Warfarin are common. Both can reduce the duration of hospitalization. These are both taken orally administered medications.


    If there is still a threat of or the patient is experiencing chronic swelling of the arms, thrombolysis surgery may be required.


    If you have noticed strange sensations in your arms or legs on an ongoing basis, do not ignore them. Talk with a Vein Specialist at Dr. Joseph Magnant’s office. Give us a call at 239-694-VEIN or complete the FREE online vein screening by going to www.weknowveins.com.

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