Diagnosing and Treating DVT/Blood Clots | American Lung Association

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Diagnosing and Treating DVT/Blood Clots

During the course of an evaluation your healthcare provider may use questionnaires, personal history, blood tests and imaging studies to determine the most likely diagnosis to fit with your symptoms.

How DVT/Blood Clots Is Diagnosed

Medical professionals may use a blood test to check the levels of a protein called D-dimer. High levels of it are commonly found in patients with DVT. If the blood test is within normal range the chances of having a blood clot are very low.

In addition to using history, physical examination and blood testing, healthcare providers may rely on medical imaging which consists of computerized tomography (CAT or CT scan) and non-invasive sonography (Duplex or Doppler ultrasound). In cases where pulmonary embolism is suspected, a CAT scan examination of the chest uses a contrast agent to aid in the visual search for a pulmonary embolism and delivers radiation to the patient. Your healthcare professional will explain each test and reason for it prior to undergoing the procedure.

Additionally, for people with an allergy to contrast agents with iodine-containing products, a ventilation-perfusion (V/Q) scan can be used for investigating pulmonary embolism. This scan may also be used for other reasons. The scan uses low-risk radioactive substances called radioisotopes to show air and blood flow in the lungs.

How DVT Is Treated

The treatment for DVT and PE most commonly involves administration of blood thinners (anticoagulants), either in injectable or pill form. In severe cases an injectable drug which dissolves clots may also be used. While you’re in the hospital, you’ll most likely get an injection, which will be transitioned into a pill regimen before you’re sent home. With the advent of new oral anticoagulants many patients are good candidates for taking blood thinner tablets which do not require routine monitoring. Your healthcare professional will work with you to find the best possible treatment for your condition.


    This content was developed in partnership with the CHEST Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American College of Chest Physicians.


    Approved by Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed December 13, 2016.

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