Blood Clot In Arm (DVT)

A blood clot in an arm vein is a diagnosis which must be made promptly.   A blood clot in an arm vein can dislodge and travel to the lungs.  This can be lethal at times.  An arm vein clot is most commonly diagnosed with ultrasound.  Arm vein blood clots are usually treated with blood thinners.

What is a blood clot?

A blood clot is a clump of blood that is useful to stop bleeding.  Blood clots can however form in veins.

What is a DVT in an arm vein?

This means that there is a deep vein thrombus or clot.  There are superficial veins which are by the skin.  The deep veins are located deep in the arm often by the muscles.

Symptoms of blood clot in the arm

Symptoms of a blood clot can be swelling and pain in the arm.  The skin may be red and inflamed.  We can sometimes feel a clot in one of the veins.

What increases the risk of a blood clot?

Catheters which are located in arm veins can cause a clot to form.

Patients who have had fractures or immobilization of their arm are at risk.

Patients with cancer are at higher risk.

A family history of clots may mean there is a genetic component.

Birth control pills can increase the risk.

What is the difference between superficial and deep vein thrombosis?

Superficial vein thrombus involves one of the veins in the arm by the skin.  The deeper veins are located deeper in the arm by the muscles.  These will include the subclavian, axillary, brachial, radial and ulnar veins.

How is blood clot in the arm diagnosed?

A blood clot is most commonly diagnosed using ultrasound.  This test uses sound waves to form an image of the body.

Is a blood clot in the arm dangerous?

A blood clot can be dangerous because the clot can dislodge and go the lungs.  This can cut off the blood supply to the lung and in some cases be lethal.

What does a blood clot in the arm look like on imaging?

Ultrasound is most commonly used to diagnosed a blood clot in the arm. A blood clot will prevent a vein from being compressed by the technologist doing the study.  We will often see the clot directly on ultrasound. The clot in the vein will either cause a partial or complete blockage of blood flow.

We can rarely see blood clots of the arms on CT and MRI.  A venogram can sometimes be done to detect a clot in an arm vein.

X-rays have no role in the diagnosis of blood clots in the arms.

What else can look like blood clot in the arm in radiology?

A blood clot in an arm vein is confidently diagnosed with ultrasound.  Sometimes we may not be sure of the age of the clot in the vein.

What type of doctor treats blood clot in the arm?

Blood clots in the arm veins are treated in a variety of settings.  This can be in a primary care office, urgent care treatment center, emergency room or specialist office.

Blood clot in the arm treatment

The goal of treatment is to prevent the blood clot from getting larger and dislodging.  Another goal is to control the symptoms of pain and swelling.

Many blood clots in the deep veins are treated with blood thinners.  In some cases more aggressive treatment is needed like medicine to break up the clot directly.

Blood clot in the arm: summary

A blood clot in an arm vein can be a dangerous condition.  The blood clot may dislodge and travel to the lungs.  Diagnosis is usually with an ultrasound of the arm veins.  Treatment is typically with blood thinners.

Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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