What is deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and what is the disease course if left untreated?

Updated: Jul 05, 2017
  • Author: Kaushal (Kevin) Patel, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Answer

DVT is the presence of coagulated blood, a thrombus, in one of the deep venous conduits that return blood to the heart. The clinical conundrum is that symptoms (pain and swelling) are often nonspecific or absent. However, if left untreated, the thrombus may become fragmented or dislodged and migrate to obstruct the arterial supply to the lung, causing potentially life-threatening PE See the images below.

Deep venous thrombosis (DVT). The image shows veno Deep venous thrombosis (DVT). The image shows venous thrombi.
Deep venous thrombosis (DVT). A pulmonary embolus Deep venous thrombosis (DVT). A pulmonary embolus is shown.

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