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What Are the Treatments for a Blood Clot in the Knee?

A diagram of the knee.
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  • Written By: K. Gierok
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 14 April 2014
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When left untreated, a blood clot in the knee can be quite serious. In fact, in some cases, it can even be life-threatening. Fortunately, the treatments of blood clots in the knee are usually quite successful. One of the most common forms of treatment is the use of certain anti-coagulant medications. In addition, the use of a thrombolysis or even surgery may be required for those with more serious blood clots. These procedures have a great deal of risk, however, and therefore are not considered for all patients.

The use of a variety of different anti-coagulants is one of the most common forms of treatment for a blood clot in the knee. Some anti-coagulants that have been found to be most successful in the treatment of this condition include heparin and warfarin. In most cases, these medications must be taken for periods ranging in time from three months up to one year, depending on the severity of the blood clot in the knee. Patients are usually kept under strict medical supervision during this time, in order to prevent the further deterioration of the condition.

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Thrombolysis is a type of treatment that may be used to treat a blood clot in the knee. A type of injected medication, thrombolysis is typically used in more severe cases of blood clots when dilution of the clot is essential. Those who receive a thrombolysis injection are still often required to take heparin and warfarin for an extended period of time, in order to prevent the formation of future clots. Thrombolysis injections may not be a possible form of treatment for all patients, however. It is especially problematic for those who are very young or old or who are suffering from a weakened immune system.

In the most severe cases, a blood clot in the knee may require surgery. This usually is only considered for the most serious forms of knee blood clots, such as those which refuse to respond to other methods, are very large, or have shown signs of movement in the body. The most common form of surgery for those with a blood clot in the knee is the implantation of a vena cava filter. In most cases, this filter is implanted in the abdomen. Implanting one of these devices decreases the chances that the blood clot could reach the heart or lungs. As with thrombolysis, this procedure has a number of risks, and therefore is not performed on all patients who suffer from the condition.

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