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Upper Extremity Deep Vein Thrombosis

written by: Cherrineb • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 8/24/2009

Upper extremity deep vein thrombosis is a dangerous medical condition. This articles provides an overview of the signs and symptoms on this condition. It also reviews the diagnosis and basic treatment options for patients.

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    Upper Extremity Deep Vein Thrombosis Defined and Diagnosis

    Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein of one part of the body. Deep veins circulate oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout the body. It is common for a DVT to form in a leg or other extremity.

    A deep vein thrombosis may happen without active signs or symptoms and this can make it dangerous for a patient, since the patient is more likely to postpone medical treatment.

    A health care provider can perform a detailed medical examination and confirm the diagnosis of upper extremity deep vein thrombosis. For example, a typical office visit may include complete blood count as part of basic laboratory work and an imaging of the body.

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    Signs and Symptoms of Upper Extremity Deep Vein Thrombosis

    Determining the specific diagnosis of this medical condition may be difficult, since a physician can see symptoms and require the patient's honesty for signs. For instance, a patient may tell the doctor that he has a low-grade fever and the physician can verify this easily. Another possible sign is bluish skin. Meanwhile, a common symptom told by patients includes upper body pain in the arm.

    The physician has to incorporate the patient's arm pain into a specific diagnosis. Also, the signs and symptoms seen on the first patient visit may be different on subsequent medical visits. Patients can save time by bringing a list of questions, including possible medications with dosage schedules.

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    Treatment Options for Upper Extremity Deep Vein Thrombosis

    A health care provider will determine deep vein treatment and may start with home treatment before progressing to more advanced medical treatment. One medical approach is basic home care such as bed rest, while elevating the lower body on firm pillows to help with the patient's blood circulation. The health provider can advise specific times to remain in bed and times to move.

    Other treatment options include medications, which are usually prescribed in small dosages and then increased based the patient's response. Another option is surgical treamtent; however this is not a first choice and can create a different set of medical problems. Surgery is not risk-free, and carries with it the risk of bleeding, and post-surgery complications such as infection.

    Sources: Upper-Extremity Deep Vein Thrombosis