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Deep Vein Thrombosis Health Center

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Blood Clots in the Leg Veins - Topic Overview

Blood clots can happen in veins. A blood clot in a vein close to the skin isn't likely to cause problems. But having blood clots in deep veins is called deep vein thrombosis. Deep vein thrombosis happens most often in the legs. This problem can lead to a blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism).

The deep veins of the leg have different terms to describe their location:

Recommended Related to DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis)

Pulmonary Embolism: A Complication of DVT

A pulmonary embolism (PE) usually happens when a blood clot called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), often in your leg, travels to your lungs and blocks a blood vessel. That leads to low oxygen levels in your blood. It can damage the lung and other organs and cause heart failure, too. A PE can be life-threatening, so if you've been diagnosed with DVT, you should be aware of this risk. Follow the treatment plan for your DVT to stop the clot from getting bigger and to keep new clots from forming.

Read the Pulmonary Embolism: A Complication of DVT article > >

  • Upper (proximal) leg veins are those above the knee but below the waist.
    • Popliteal veins are located behind the knee.
    • Iliac and femoral veins are in the groin area.
  • Lower (distal) leg veins are those below the knee.
    • Distal leg veins are located in the calf and ankle.

A person with a blood clot in a deep upper (proximal) leg vein is at increased risk for a blood clot in the lung or other complications.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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