According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diagnosis of deep vein thrombosis – the formation of a blood clot in one of the deeper veins – can be tricky. So can diagnosis of pulmonary embolism, which occurs when a blood clot breaks off and travels to the lungs.
That’s because other conditions produce similar symptoms. For example, muscle strains and swelling of veins close to the skin can mimic deep vein thrombosis symptoms, which include swelling, pain, tenderness and redness of the skin. Heart attack and pneumonia have symptoms similar to those of pulmonary embolism, which include faster-than-normal or irregular heart beat, chest pain or discomfort, lightheadedness or fainting.
According to the CDC, risk factors for DVT and PE include major surgery; immobility, such as being in the hospital and long travel; recent injury; and increased estrogen, from birth control pills, pregnancy, and certain medications.
A number of studies show that birth control pills with the compound drospirenone can increase the risk of potentially deadly blood clots as much as three times more than other oral contraceptives on the market.
The diagnosis of either condition requires special tests that can only be performed by a doctor, which is why it’s important to seek medical care if you experience any of the symptoms of DVT or PE. Some of the tests that may be performed are listed below.
DVT is often diagnosed using
- Duplex ultrasound — It uses sound waves to evaluate the flow of blood in the veins.
- Venography — If the duplex ultrasound does not provide a clear diagnosis, a venogram, a type of X ray, is used to look at the veins to see if clots are present.
- D-dimer — A blood test that can be used to rule out a clot.
DVT also can be diagnosed using the following, less frequently used, tests:
- In many cases, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can provide information that would not show up on an x-ray. This test is being used more frequently to diagnose DVT.
- A computerized tomography scan is a special type of x-ray that can provide pictures of structures inside the body. However, this test is rarely used to diagnose DVT.
Tests to find the location of and damage to the lungs caused by a PE include:
- Computerized tomography (CT scan) of the lung, a special type of x-ray that can provide pictures of structures inside the body.
- Pulmonary ventilation or perfusion scan, a special test that looks at how the lung is working and if it is getting enough blood.
- Pulmonary angiogram, the injection of a dye into the heart and then an x-ray, to look for clots in the lung.
Patients should consult their doctors before making any changes in their medication. A consultation with a Beyaz lawyer is also important if there are significant injuries while on Beyaz or similar birth control pills.
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