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Melissa Kirkwood, M.D. Answers Questions On Deep Vein Thrombosis Symptoms and Aortic Aneurysms

Melissa Kirkwood, M.D. Answers Questions On: Deep Vein Thrombosis Symptoms and Aortic Aneurysms

Who is at risk for deep vein thrombosis and how do you treat it?

deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can occur when a blood clot develops in a vein deep inside the body. DVT commonly causes swelling and leg pain but can also occur without symptoms.

Some people are genetically more likely to develop a DVT, and people who are immobilized, have certain medical conditions, or sit still for long periods of time are also at higher risk. Staying active helps prevent the condition. 

Because the clot can break apart and move through the bloodstream, DVT should be promptly evaluated and treated.

In patients with significant DVTs, I often perform percutaneous mechanical thrombolysis, a minimally invasive procedure in which I remove the clot with a catheter. Patients often experience significant resolution of their swelling and pain following this procedure

Why is it important to detect an aortic aneurysm before it ruptures?

Abdominal and aortic aneurysms are particularly dangerous when they rupture – abdominal aortic aneurysms alone cause more than 10,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.

If we can find the aneurysm and schedule surgery, we can offer a couple of options. The anatomy of the patient’s aortic aneurysm, as well as his or her functional status, are important factors in deciding on either an open or endovascular aortic aneurysm repair. Patients who have elective endovascular aneurysm repair do very well and often go home one to two days following surgery. Those who have elective open surgery will probably be hospitalized for three days.

What are the risk factors for aortic aneurysms?

While the cause of aortic aneurysms is poorly understood, risk factors strongly associated with all types of aneurysms include smoking, hypertension, and atherosclerosis – all of which are believed to damage and weaken arterial walls.

Medicare data suggest better outcomes among people who are regularly screened for aortic aneurysms because they are identified and repaired before they rupture.