Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT) Differential Diagnoses

Updated: Jun 05, 2019
  • Author: Kaushal (Kevin) Patel, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Diagnostic Considerations

Of patients evaluated for deep venous thrombosis (DVT) of the lower extremity, only a quarter of them have the disease. DVT is characterized by pain and swelling of the limb, which are not specific. Numerous patients with DVT are asymptomatic.

Severe venous congestion produces a clinical appearance that can be indistinguishable from the appearance of cellulitis. Patients with a warm, swollen, tender leg should be evaluated for both cellulitis and DVT because patients with primary DVT often develop a secondary cellulitis, while patients with primary cellulitis often develop a secondary DVT. Superficial thrombophlebitis, likewise, is often associated with a clinically inapparent underlying DVT.

Other problems to be considered include the following:

  • Achilles tendonitis

  • Arthritis

  • Muscle strain or tear

  • Hematoma

  • Soft-tissue injury

  • Stress fracture

  • Pain

  • Swelling in a paralyzed limb

  • Arterial insufficiency

  • Peripheral occlusive disease

  • Thromboembolism

  • Superficial thrombophlebitis

  • Postphlebitic syndrome

  • Varicose veins

  • Dependent edema

  • Hepatic disease

  • Renal failure

  • Nephritic syndrome

  • Lymphedema

Differential Diagnoses