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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)

DVT Dangers and How to Prevent Them

The greatest danger from deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is that the clot will break loose, travel through your blood, and damage an organ. "The place it gets stuck most commonly is the lungs, and that's called a pulmonary embolism (PE)," says Molly Cooke, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco. Less often, another clot can form and travel to the brain and cause a stroke. If a clot travels to the heart, it could cause a heart attack. A clot in the kidneys can cause kidney failure. Depending...

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  • 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.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    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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