Blood Clots in the Groin

A blood clot that forms in the upper leg vein is called a femoral vein thrombosis. The medical term for a blood clot is thrombus. In most cases, a deep vein thrombosis or blood clot forms in the veins of the calf, the thigh, or the pelvis – all areas where the body’s arteries and veins are at their largest.

The femoral veins are located on the inside of the legs, traveling from the groin or pelvic area downward through the thigh toward the knee. The femoral artery carries oxygenated blood to blood vessels of the pelvic region and lower extremities, while the femoral vein transports deoxygenated blood back to the lungs for oxygenation.

Femoral veins are not as deep as the artery, and are more superficial to the skin. Like other clots, a femoral vein clot may form following blunt force injury, a post-surgical procedure, periods of immobility, or an extremely sedentary lifestyle. However, a femoral vein thrombosis may also develop without a person experiencing any of the above scenarios.

A number of risk factors can increase the risk for thrombosis. They include:

  • Sedentary lifestyle or immobility
  • Extended bedrest caused by a medical condition
  • Pre-existing blood clotting disorder
  • Some types of cancer
  • Personal or family history of deep vein thrombosis

Symptoms of a blood clot in the groin

Anyone experiencing signs or symptoms of a blood clot in the groin should seek medical help immediately. Some symptoms include:

  • Swelling that affects the entire leg
  • Tenderness following the path of the vein
  • An abnormal swelling that remains puffy or swollen when you palpate or gently press against it with a finger
  • Low-grade fever

Individuals experiencing any odd sensations such as the above symptoms should consult their primary care physician. A number of diagnostic tests can determine presence of a clot in the groin area, among them noninvasive compression ultrasonography, which determines the exact location of the clot. An MRI is also a noninvasive diagnostic procedure that takes high resolution images of anatomy which can display images of a blood clot.

What do you do if you have a blood clot in the groin?

Treatments for femoral vein thrombosis focus on anticoagulation therapies. Medications are often prescribed to thin the blood and reduce the risk of future clot formation. In addition to medication, certain types of exercise may be suggested to promote circulation. Individuals unable to take blood thinners for various medical reasons may be candidates for an interior vena cava filter which can be inserted into a vein to “catch” a blood clot before it moves through vessels toward the heart, lungs, brain.

Early intervention important. If you suspect a blood clot in the groin, contact your physician immediately.

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