What are the Different Types of Vascular Thrombosis?

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  • Written By: Debra Durkee
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2018
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Vascular thrombosis occurs when a blood clot obstructs a vein. Veins are the vessels that carry blood back toward the heart after it has been pumped to different parts of the body and the oxygen used. Blockages in these vessels can slow or even stop blood flow, with serious consequences. Different types of vascular thrombosis occur in different parts of the body.

Sometimes vascular thrombosis, or thrombophlebitis, can result in the formation of blood clots in veins that are close to the skin. These clots can sometimes be seen with nothing more than a physical examination; when they are large enough, they can manifest themselves as painful and hard spots beneath the skin. These clots can discolor the skin, and appear as a red spot in the center of a tender, sensitive area. Causes include injuries to the veins, where clots build up and cannot be broken down by the body's natural processes.

Intestinal ischemia occurs when the vascular thrombosis blocks or slows the blood flow to the intestines. This can lead to the death of intestinal tissues or scarring on the inside of the intestines or colon; when the blood flow to these damaged areas ceases, it also makes it next to impossible for the damage to heal. When this occurs, the passageways for digested material to pass through narrows, and results in cramps and pain, nausea, weight loss, or painful bowel movements. If left untreated, it can result in death.


Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is perhaps the most well-known of the types of vascular thrombosis, and can occur in almost anyone if conditions are right. Called deep vein thrombosis because blockages occur in veins deep within the muscles of the body, it most commonly occurs in the legs. Long periods of inactivity can cause blood flow to the extremities to slow, and when this happens blood can coagulate in the veins and build clots. Those who are bedridden while recovering from surgery or illness and those who undertake long airline flights can be particularly vulnerable. Persons who have a family history of heart disease, who smoke, or who are obese are at increased risk for this to happen.

One of the biggest dangers of vascular thrombosis happens when the blood clot that has formed breaks free and is carried back to the lungs. A pulmonary embolism can occur when the blood clot blocks an artery of the lung, resulting in chest pains, irregular heartbeats, or even cardiac failure. When symptoms occur, treatment including administration of blood thinners or, in severe cases, surgery can help keep clots from damaging organs and causing long-term complications.



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