What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Deep vein thrombosis (throm-BO-sis), or DVT, is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body. Blood clots occur when blood thickens and clumps together.
Most deep vein blood clots occur in the lower leg or thigh. They also can occur in other parts of the body. A blood clot in a deep vein can break off and travel through the bloodstream. The loose clot is called an embolus. When the clot travels to the lungs and blocks blood flow, the condition is called pulmonary embolism (PULL-mun-ary EM-bo-lizm), or PE. PE is a very serious condition. It can damage the lungs and other organs in the body and cause death. Blood clots in the thigh are more likely to break off and cause PE than blood clots in the lower leg or other parts of the body. Blood clots also can form in the veins closer to the skin's surface. However, these clots won't break off and cause PE.
Other Names for Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Blood clot in the legs
- Venous thrombosis
- Venous thromboembolism (VTE) - used for both deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism