Depending on your risk factors and the nature of your operation, you may receive one or more of the following common methods of DVT prevention.
Special Stockings (Anti-Embolic Stockings)
Specialist stockings provide a graduated, firm and even pressure to the legs to help the blood flow in your lower limbs and may be used either as a sole method of DVT prevention or in combination with medicines. The stockings should be new and belong to you. They can be below or above knee in length. They are often put on just before your operation or immediately after it or as soon as you are immobile. Leg measurements are taken so that they fit properly and do not stop or slow the flow of blood.
Intermittent Pneumatic Compression (IPC) mimics the effect of walking, by helping to actively squeeze the blood back up the legs to the heart. A garment is fitted around each of your legs or feet. This is attached to a machine, which inflates a section of the garment with air.
Drugs may be given, as tablets or injections, which thin your blood and prevent it becoming too sticky and forming a clot. Because these drugs prevent your blood from clotting (coagulating) they are called anticoagulants. Anticoagulation needs to be given as near as possible to your surgery or injury. If your surgery is planned, anticoagulation is sometimes begun just before surgery. It is continued until you are fully mobile or for up to six weeks.
The most common types of anticoagulation are:
Heparin: This is given by a small injection just under the skin. The commonest are called low molecular weight heparins (LMWH). Anticoagulation is begun just before surgery and continues for up to six weeks. There are certain things you must do and must not do while having this treatment and things to look out for. As with other drugs the nurse and doctor will explain possible side effects.
Low dose aspirin: A very small amount of aspirin, taken regularly reduces the stickiness of the blood and prevents clotting. As before, the nurse and doctor will explain how it works and what to do.
What can I do?
For everyone at risk of DVT it is important to follow these simple precautions.
The most effective way of preventing a blood clot forming is by keeping active. After your operation you will be advised to get up and about. If you are not able to walk, there are other actions you can take.
Raising the legs: Raising the legs on a pillow or footstool uses gravity to help the blood to flow from the legs back to the heart more easily. People with high blood pressure or who have sustained recent injury to the head will be advised not to do this. Raising of the legs is sometimes achieved by raising the foot end of the bed or by placing the feet on a pillow or stool.
Exercises: Exercises can be done whilst you are in bed or sitting in a chair. They can be done with or without an exercise aid or cushion and will help keep the blood moving in your legs. The nurse or physiotherapist will advise you according to your situation and what you are allowed to do. These exercises should be done frequently (normally each exercise to be done 5 times, twice in each hour).
If you have any concerns regarding DVT, please contact your doctor or nurse.