Have you ever heard anyone say the word DVT in reference to your legs and wondered what they’re talking about? DVT stands for deep vein thrombosis. It refers to a blood clot in your veins.
These blood clots usually occur in your:
Your femoral vein runs along the inside of your legs from your groin area downward. Femoral vein thrombosis refers to a blood clot present in one of the branches of the femoral vein. The clot can form locally or travel upstream from the calf and relocate there. These veins are deep within the thigh and are more prone to blood clots than superficial veins.
Symptoms of femoral vein thrombosis are similar to symptoms of DVT.
- noticeable swelling of your entire leg
- tenderness along the veins
- abnormal swelling that stays swollen when you press it with your finger, also known as pitting edema
- low-grade fever
Additionally, the calf of your affected leg may swell to a size that’s more than 3 centimeters greater than the nonaffected leg.
Femoral vein thrombosis can occur as a result of surgery or complications from illness. It can also occur without a known cause or event.
Risk factors for femoral vein thrombosis include:
- major medical conditions that require you to be on bed rest for an extended period of time
- recent surgery or leg trauma
- an existing, underlying blood clotting disorder
- cancer diagnosis
- history of past deep vein thrombosis
Your healthcare provider may be able to recognize signs and symptoms of a femoral vein thrombosis from a physical examination, but they’ll need to do additional testing to diagnose the condition.
Compression ultrasonography is the most commonly used imaging technique to diagnose a blood clot.
It’s a noninvasive test that allows your healthcare provider to see an image of your femoral veins down to your calf veins. It’ll display an image on the screen in different colors. If you have an obstruction, your healthcare provider can use this image to locate the clot.
Venography is an invasive imaging diagnostic test used to look for DVTs. It can be painful and expensive. This test is less likely used because of the discomfort and costs. Your healthcare provider may recommend venography if the results from an ultrasonography are inconclusive.
An MRI is a noninvasive diagnostic test that looks at a high-resolution image of your anatomy. Your healthcare provider may order an MRI if you’re unable to do an ultrasound.
Treatment for femoral vein thrombosis is focused primarily on preventing the formation of a blood clot. Treatment typically consists of anticoagulation therapy to thin your blood to help prevent clot formations.
Initially, your healthcare provider may prescribe heparin injections or fondaparinux (Arixtra) injections. After a period of time, they’ll discontinue the heparin and switch you to warfarin (Coumadin).
Newer drugs approved in the treatment of DVT and pulmonary embolism (PE) include:
If you have limited or reduced mobility, your healthcare provider may also recommend elevating your legs with a pillow to avoid compressing your veins.
If you develop a clot, your healthcare provider may also prescribe pain medication to help decrease the discomfort caused by the clot.
If you’re unable to take blood thinners, your healthcare provider may place an interior vena cava filter (IVCF) into your veins. An IVCF is designed to catch a blood clot if it starts to move through the vein.
If you’re scheduled for surgery or if you have limited or reduced mobility, speak to your healthcare provider about blood clot prevention methods. Preventing a blood clot is your best form of treatment.
The best prevention method for femoral vein thrombosis is trying to remain as mobile as possible.
The more immobile you are, the higher your risk of developing a DVT.
Here are some prevention tips:
- If you’re traveling long distances, stand up and move your legs regularly. If you’re on a plane, walk up and down the aisle every hour. If you’re in a car, take frequent stops so that you can get out of the car and move around.
- Stay hydrated, especially while traveling. Not only will this help you to remember to move because you’ll need to take trips to the restroom, but it’ll also help promote blood flow.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about elastic stockings, sometimes called TED hose or compression stockings. They may help improve circulation in your legs.
- If your healthcare provider prescribes blood thinners, take them as directed.
If you suspect a blood clot, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Early intervention can make you less likely to experience complications.
If you’re planning on having surgery, speak with your healthcare provider beforehand about ways to prevent blood clots.
You should also speak with your healthcare provider if you have any injury that affects your mobility. They can recommend safe ways to reduce your risk for blood clots.