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Deep Venous ThrombosisDeep venous thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot which develops in the calf. The main risk factors in athletes include prolonged immobilisation (eg. long haul flights), post surgery, family history and contraceptive pill usage in women.
DVT is a serious and potentially fatal disorder as there is a risk that these clots can dislodge and travel in the bloodstream to block blood vessels in the lungs. This medical emergency is referred to as a pulmonary embolus. For this reason, a DVT should always be suspected when there is unexplained calf pain after a period of prolonged immobilisation.
Steve Waugh suffered a DVT on return from the 2001 Ashes tour of England. Andrew Gaze had a rare upper limb DVT early in his basketball career which occurred after a prolonged session of painting. He was forced to take 4 months off basketball.
The aim of treatment of a DVT is to thin the blood (anti-coagulation) to prevent the formation of further clots. Contact sport is a strict contra-indication of anti-coagulation treatment as there is a risk of catastrophic bleeding should a heavy collision take place.