What Causes a Thrombosis and Where Can One Occur?
A thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms within a blood vessel. This clot will then prevent blood from reaching a certain area of the body, leading to hypoxia from lack of oxygen and the death of tissues or organs. A thrombosis that breaks free and travels to the lungs can cause what is known as a pulmonary embolism. One that travels to the brain can cause a cerebral embolism. Similarly, a coronary embolism occurs when this clot travels to the heart.
All of these are considered potentially life-threatening conditions and require prompt treatment.
There are a number of thromboses that can occur; each based on where the clot will form:
- A deep venous thrombosis is most commonly found within the legs and can involve the femoral artery.
- Portal vein thrombosis occurs when a clot forms on the hepatic portal vein and compromises blood flow to the liver.
- Jugular thromboses occur near the jugular vein and can cause a pulmonary or coronary embolism.
- Cavernous sinus thromboses are one of the most serious, as the clot will form at the base of the brain and quickly cause death if left untreated.
- A transverse thrombosis can occur within the sinuses in the head. This condition is also very serious and requires immediate treatment.
Thrombosis Characteristics include:
- The formation of a blood clot in venous and arterial regions of the body .
- The clot may break free and affect areas such as the heart, liver or brain.
- Thee clots can be life-threatening.
Thrombosis Symptoms and Treatment Options
One of the problems with the diagnosis of a thrombosis is that patients will frequently report no symptoms until the clot becomes severe in nature. Two-thirds of all cases involve the deep veins found in the legs, with pain and swelling occurring in the affected region. A distension of the superficial veins may also be present. If blood flow is restricted, the affected area may also appear bluish and even hot to the touch. A low-grade fever can concurrently occur.
Main symptoms of thrombosis include:
- Localized pain and swelling.
- Distended or "hard" superficial veins in the area.
- A low-grade fever.
Thrombosis treatment will generally involve how the condition presents itself and the acuteness of the thrombosis. Normally, anticoagulants are given to help reduce the viscosity of the blood and increase its flow to the affected regions. There will be an increased chance of bleeding, so the patient must be carefully monitored. A hospital stay may be required, for if the clot breaks free there is a danger of it travelling to other sensitive areas of the body.
After this initial phase, many individuals may wear inflatable devices to help prevent the pooling of blood in a certain area (such as the lower legs). Many at-home treatments can be used, however cases involving arterial areas are difficult to detect without the help of a doctor.
Treatment options include:
- The administration of anticoagulants.
- Careful monitoring either in a hospital or on an outpatient basis.
- The use of devices designed to place pressure on areas known to be a risk factor.