Can DVT treatment be more successful with both ultrasound and drugs, rather than just the clot-busting medications alone?

DVT stands for deep vein thrombosis, a life-threatening blood clot that can result from surgery (especially joint replacement) as well as extended air travel or prolonged home bed rest.

The typical treatment is administration of a clot-busting drug intravenously.

A study from the Emory University School of Medicine shows that ultrasound plus drugs will help break up a DVT. But more studies are needed — and large-scale ones — to obtain a final verdict.

“It was a small study, and the CHEST guidelines (which is what most physicians follow) does not recommend this method above others,” says Steve Elias, MD, FACS, a vein specialist with Englewood Health in NJ.

Dr. Elias adds, “Small studies give us food for thought but should not change practice patterns completely.”

Most DVTs form in the calves but can form anywhere.

A deep vein thrombosis can break loose from its positioning in the blood vessel and travel into the lungs, where it will then block blood flow.

At this point it’s called a pulmonary embolism. A massive pulmonary embolism can kill in less than a minute.

DVT Risk Factors

  • Older age
  • Smoking
  • Overweight
  • Pregnancy
  • Birth control pills
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Having a pacemaker
  • Family history of DVT
  • Extended bed rest, air travel or road travel
  • Heart failure
  • Cancer treatment
  • General anesthesia
  • Major surgery
Dr. Elias is a leading name in venous disease, minimally invasive vein disease therapy and clinical vein and wound research. Dr. Elias lectures about all aspects of venous disease nationally and internationally.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
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