One of the most common concerns that patients have after surgery, is whether their swelling is normal and if they could have a DVT. This blog article will education patients on DVT, or Deep vein thrombosis, and how to prevent it post-operatively:
What is a DVT?
A DVT, deep vein thrombosis, is the formation of a blood clot in a deep vein. The most common location is in the legs. This is concerning because the clot can break off and move through the bloodstream. This is called an embolism. This embolism can settle in the lungs, causing a Pulmonary embolism, which is life-threatening.
Who is at risk for a DVT?
Those at risk for a DVT are the following:
Those people who are on bedrest or are immobile.
Family history of blood clots
Fractures in the pelvis or legs
Taking birth control pills
Sitting for long periods of time during traveling
What are the symptoms of a DVT?
The main symptoms of a DVT are redness, leg or calf pain, significant calf swelling, and warm skin to touch. After the total joint surgeries, it is normal to have some swelling in the leg, with warmth at the incision site, mild redness around the incision site, and some bruising that can even show up in the foot.
How can I prevent a DVT?
The main things that you can do to prevent a post-operative DVT is to cease smoking, if you are a smoker, wear your TEDs stockings for the full 4 weeks after surgery, participate in physical therapy to reduce inactivity, limit your travel the first 4-6 weeks after surgery, and take your blood thinner that is recommended on discharge.
For the hip arthroplasty, we recommend Coumadin or Lovenox, depending on the surgeon.
For the knee arthroplasty, we recommend Ecotrin 325mg (coated Aspirin).
What is the treatment?
If there is any question after examining a patient for the symptoms listed above, we send the patient for an ultrasound to detect a blood clot. If it is positive for a blood clot, the patient is referred to their primary care physician to manage blood thinning medications for a period of time. If it is negative, you most likely are experiencing the normal post-operative swelling and will need to continue to ice the joint, elevate the leg above the heart, continue the TEDs stockings, and continue physical therapy.
If there are any questions regarding your symptoms, please do not hesitate to contact Sarah Yost PA-C at the office.