What Is Femoral Vein Thrombosis? (2024)

Overview

Have you ever heard anyone say the word DVT in reference to your legs and wondered what they’re talking about? DVT stands for deep vein thrombosis. It refers to a blood clot in your veins.

These blood clots usually occur in your:

  • calf
  • thigh
  • pelvis

Your femoral vein runs along the inside of your legs from your groin area downward. Femoral vein thrombosis refers to a blood clot present in one of the branches of the femoral vein. The clot can form locally or travel upstream from the calf and relocate there. These veins are deep within the thigh and are more prone to blood clots than superficial veins.

Symptoms of femoral vein thrombosis are similar to symptoms of DVT.

They include:

  • noticeable swelling of your entire leg
  • tenderness along the veins
  • abnormal swelling that stays swollen when you press it with your finger, also known as pitting edema
  • low-grade fever

Additionally, the calf of your affected leg may swell to a size that’s more than 3 centimeters greater than the nonaffected leg.

Risk factors for femoral vein thrombosis include:

  • immobility
  • major medical conditions that require you to be on bed rest for an extended period of time
  • recent surgery or leg trauma
  • an existing, underlying blood clotting disorder
  • cancer diagnosis
  • history of past deep vein thrombosis

Your healthcare provider may be able to recognize signs and symptoms of a femoral vein thrombosis from a physical examination, but they’ll need to do additional testing to diagnose the condition.

Compression ultrasonography

Compression ultrasonography is the most commonly used imaging technique to diagnose a blood clot.

It’s a noninvasive test that allows your healthcare provider to see an image of your femoral veins down to your calf veins. It’ll display an image on the screen in different colors. If you have an obstruction, your healthcare provider can use this image to locate the clot.

Venography

Venography is an invasive imaging diagnostic test used to look for DVTs. It can be painful and expensive. This test is less likely used because of the discomfort and costs. Your healthcare provider may recommend venography if the results from an ultrasonography are inconclusive.

MRI

An MRI is a noninvasive diagnostic test that looks at a high-resolution image of your anatomy. Your healthcare provider may order an MRI if you’re unable to do an ultrasound.

Treatment for femoral vein thrombosis is focused primarily on preventing the formation of a blood clot. Treatment typically consists of anticoagulation therapy to thin your blood to help prevent clot formations.

Initially, your healthcare provider may prescribe heparin injections or fondaparinux (Arixtra) injections. After a period of time, they’ll discontinue the heparin and switch you to warfarin (Coumadin).

Newer drugs approved in the treatment of DVT and pulmonary embolism (PE) include:

  • edoxaban (Savaysa)
  • dabigatran (Pradaxa)
  • rivaroxaban (Xarelto)
  • apixaban (Eliquis)

If you have limited or reduced mobility, your healthcare provider may also recommend elevating your legs with a pillow to avoid compressing your veins.

If you develop a clot, your healthcare provider may also prescribe pain medication to help decrease the discomfort caused by the clot.

If you’re unable to take blood thinners, your healthcare provider may place an interior vena cava filter (IVCF) into your veins. An IVCF is designed to catch a blood clot if it starts to move through the vein.

If you’re scheduled for surgery or if you have limited or reduced mobility, speak to your healthcare provider about blood clot prevention methods. Preventing a blood clot is your best form of treatment.

The best prevention method for femoral vein thrombosis is trying to remain as mobile as possible.

The more immobile you are, the higher your risk of developing a DVT.

Here are some prevention tips:

  • If you’re traveling long distances, stand up and move your legs regularly. If you’re on a plane, walk up and down the aisle every hour. If you’re in a car, take frequent stops so that you can get out of the car and move around.
  • Stay hydrated, especially while traveling. Not only will this help you to remember to move because you’ll need to take trips to the restroom, but it’ll also help promote blood flow.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about elastic stockings, sometimes called TED hose or compression stockings. They may help improve circulation in your legs.
  • If your healthcare provider prescribes blood thinners, take them as directed.

If you suspect a blood clot, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Early intervention can make you less likely to experience complications.

If you’re planning on having surgery, speak with your healthcare provider beforehand about ways to prevent blood clots.

You should also speak with your healthcare provider if you have any injury that affects your mobility. They can recommend safe ways to reduce your risk for blood clots.

What Is Femoral Vein Thrombosis? (2024)

FAQs

What Is Femoral Vein Thrombosis? ›

Femoral vein thrombosis refers to a blood clot present in one of the branches of the femoral vein. The clot can form locally or travel upstream from the calf and relocate there. These veins are deep within the thigh and are more prone to blood clots than superficial veins.

How serious is femoral vein thrombosis? ›

Without early intervention, blood clots that form in the femoral vein may travel and lodge in the heart, where they can cause conditions, such as ischemic heart disease. Ischemic means the organ — in this case, the heart — is not getting enough blood and oxygen.

How do you treat a thrombosis in the femoral vein? ›

Therapeutic strategies include conservative management, such as leg elevation or compression (by external compression stockings or compression devices), pharmacologic therapy (e.g., rutosides, horse chestnut) and endovascular interventions (surgery or venous stenting).

What are the warning signs of deep vein thrombosis? ›

Clues of a Clot
  • swelling of the leg or along a vein in the leg.
  • pain or tenderness in the leg, which you may feel only when standing or walking.
  • increased warmth in the area of the leg that's swollen or painful.
  • red or discolored skin on the leg.
  • unexplained shortness of breath.
  • pain with deep breathing.
  • coughing up blood.

Where is the femoral vein located? ›

The femoral vein is in your thigh. This vein begins at your knee and travels up through your groin to your abdomen. Your femoral vein sits next to your femoral artery.

What does a blood clot in the femoral vein feel like? ›

Signs that you may have a blood clot

leg pain or discomfort that may feel like a pulled muscle, tightness, cramping or soreness. swelling in the affected leg. redness or discoloration of the sore spot. the affected area feeling warm to the touch.

Can you get a blood clot in the front of your thigh? ›

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein deep inside a part of the body. DVT mainly affects the large veins in the lower leg and thigh, but can occur in other deep veins, such as in the arms and pelvis. DVT most often affects only one side of the body.

What causes a femoral blood clot? ›

This is a clot in the long vein in your thigh. It usually doesn't cause symptoms, but sometimes you could have swelling, redness, and pain in your leg. Femoral vein clots can happen for many reasons: after surgery, when you're on bedrest, or if you sit for a long time, take birth control pills, or have had DVT before.

What causes thrombosis of the femoral artery? ›

The most likely cause of arterial thrombosis is artery damage due to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis occurs when a person has a buildup of plaque on the walls of their arteries. The arteries then begin to narrow and harden, which increases a person's risk of developing arterial thrombosis.

Is femoral vein thrombosis a DVT? ›

Thrombus is present in the common femoral vein and/or iliac vein in 25% of symptomatic patients with lower extremity DVT. Thrombus present in one or both of these veins defines IFDVT irrespective of thrombus involvement in veins above the iliac vein or below the common femoral vein.

Does a blood clot in the leg hurt constantly? ›

The pain associated with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can vary from person to person, and may not always be constant. The pain may come and go, or it may persist and worsen over time. However, other symptoms such as swelling, warmth, and redness in the affected area may be present.

What not to do with deep vein thrombosis? ›

DON'T stand or sit in one spot for a long time. DON'T wear clothing that restricts blood flow in your legs. DON'T smoke. DON'T participate in contact sports when taking blood thinners because you're at risk of bleeding from trauma.

What can be mistaken for blood clots in legs? ›

Medical conditions that have symptoms similar to DVT blood clots include:
  • Peripheral artery disease.
  • Varicose veins and spider veins.
  • Cellulitis.
  • Vasculitis.
  • Acute arterial occlusion.
  • Necrotizing fasciitis.
  • Nephrotic syndrome.
Sep 23, 2021

What side of the leg is the femoral artery? ›

The location of the femoral artery is at the top of your thigh in an area called the femoral triangle. The triangle is just below your groin, which is the crease where your abdomen ends and your legs begin. The femoral artery runs to the lower thigh and ends behind the knee.

Which leg has the femoral artery? ›

You have one femoral artery in each leg, so each artery is responsible for carrying blood to that side of the body. These arteries carry oxygen-rich blood away from your heart and deliver it where it's needed. The femoral vein runs next to the artery to return the blood without oxygen back to the heart.

What does a blood clot in the groin feel like? ›

Swelling, warmth, and tenderness in the groin area. Pain or discomfort. Reddened or discolored skin over the affected area. Heaviness or a sensation of fullness in the groin region.

What happens if you get a blood clot in your femoral artery? ›

The clots can get stuck in an artery and block blood flow. The blockage starves tissues of blood and oxygen. This can result in damage or tissue death (necrosis). Arterial emboli often occur in the legs and feet.

Which is the most life threatening type of venous thrombosis? ›

If you develop symptoms of a pulmonary embolism (PE) — a life-threatening complication of deep vein thrombosis — seek emergency medical help. The warning signs and symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include: Sudden shortness of breath. Chest pain or discomfort that worsens when you take a deep breath or when you cough.

What is the survival rate of venous thrombosis? ›

The mortality rate after venous thrombosis is about 20% within 1 y [2],[8]. Mortality is 2- to 4-fold higher for patients with pulmonary embolism (PE), of whom 10%–20% die within 3 mo after the event, than for patients with a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) of the leg [2],[9]–[11].

How do you know if you have a blood clot in your femoral artery? ›

Femoral Vein Thrombosis

It usually doesn't cause symptoms, but sometimes you could have swelling, redness, and pain in your leg. Femoral vein clots can happen for many reasons: after surgery, when you're on bedrest, or if you sit for a long time, take birth control pills, or have had DVT before.

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