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Deep Vein Thrombosis in Children: Care Instructions

Back of child's leg showing veins in leg, with detail of blood clot inside vein.


A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in certain veins, usually in the legs, pelvis, or arms. Blood clots in these veins need to be treated because they can get bigger, break loose, and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs. A blood clot in a lung can be life-threatening.

Your child may need to take a blood thinner for at least 3 months. Blood thinners help prevent new blood clots from forming. Blood thinners will not get rid of a blood clot your child already has, but they will keep the clot from getting bigger. Over time, your child's body will get rid of most or all of the blood clot your child already has.

If your child is taking a blood thinner, be sure you get instructions about how to take this medicine safely. Blood thinners can cause serious bleeding problems.

The doctor has checked your child carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think your child is having a problem with a medicine.
  • Have your child walk several times a day.
  • Have your child wear compression stockings if your doctor recommends them. These stockings are tighter at the feet than on the legs. They may reduce pain and swelling in your child's legs. But there are different types of stockings, and they need to fit right. So your child's doctor will recommend what your child needs.
  • When your child sits, use a pillow to raise the arm or leg that has the blood clot. Try to keep the arm or leg above the level of your child's heart.
  • Have your child wear medical alert jewellery that shows that your child is on a blood-thinning medicine.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passed out (lost consciousness).
  • Your child has symptoms of a blood clot in the lungs (called a pulmonary embolism). These include:
    • Sudden chest pain.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Coughing up blood.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse trouble breathing.
  • Your child is dizzy or light-headed, or feels like they may faint.
  • Your child has symptoms of a blood clot in an arm or leg (called a deep vein thrombosis). These may include:
    • Pain in the arm, calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Swelling in the arm, leg, or groin.
    • A colour change on the arm, leg, or groin. The skin may be reddish or purplish, depending on your child's usual skin colour.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.