Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

Patients who are newly diagnosedwith deep vein thrombosis (DVT) oftenhave questions relating to the possibilityof clot migration to the lungs. Afteranticoagulants are started, the clot maydissolve on its own or remain in the legindefinitely (chronic DVT). Once theclotting cascade is interrupted by theanticoagulants, the clot usually beginsto shrink and becomes firmly attachedto the vessel wall. With time, the liningof the vessel wall may grow over theclot. Once the clot has becomeattached to the wall of the blood vesseland the lining of the blood vessel hasgrown over it, there is a much lowerrisk of the clot moving and/or causingmore clot formation. This process isthought to take about 5 to 10 days. It isalso possible that the body's ownmechanism for dissolving clots mayslowly eliminate the clot.

Some clinicians recently have startedto use ultrasound scanning to determineif a clot remains at different points in thetreatment process. At least one studyhas suggested that if the clot disappearscompletely, then the patient is less likelyto have another clot once treatment isstopped.

Dr. Garrett is a clinical pharmacistpractitioner at Cornerstone HealthCare in High Point, NC.