Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) refers to the formation of a thrombus (blood clot) within a deep vein, commonly in the thigh or calf, but can also occur in the veins of the upper extremities. The major concern is that if a blood clot develops, it can potentially block blood flow back in to the heart and cause damage to the one-way valves in the veins. A clot could also break free and travel through your blood to major organs, such as your lungs. This is called a pulmonary embolism and can be fatal. Your risk for developing a DVT is greatest right after surgery and about 10 days afterward. This is why we take all of the necessary precautions beginning the day of surgery.
PRECAUTIONS IMPLEMENTED TO REDUCE YOUR RISKS:
- Regional and local anesthesia is used whenever possible instead of general anesthesia because research has demonstrated that this decreases your risk of developing a DVT.
- Compression devices are applied on your lower extremities during and after your surgical procedure to enhance blood flow.
HOW TO PREVENT DVT WHEN TRAVELING:
- Avoid air travel for a minimum of two weeks after surgery on the lower extremity.
- For Air Travel – Take one 325 mg Aspirin one hour prior to flight and then once a day for 5 days.
- If on an airplane for more than 3 hours, either walk frequently or do ankle pump exercises (flex your foot up and down repeatedly) in your seat every hour. This squeezes the blood vessels, helping to prevent DVT by preventing the formation of blood clots.
- Stay well hydrated. Dehydration causes blood to thicken and the veins to narrow.
- Avoid alcohol consumption. Alcohol can cause dehydration.
- You may also consider purchasing compression stockings at a medical supply store and wearing them during your travels. This also helps reduce swelling.
- Avoid wearing short, tight socks or crossing your legs for long periods.
- When traveling by car, stop every hour to walk around.
SEEK EMERGENT CARE IF YOU DEVELOP:
- Increasing leg pain
- Swelling that does not decrease with leg elevation
- Enlargement of veins near the skin
- Reddish or pink skin color
- Skin that is warm to the touch