Basilic vein thrombosis is a specific type of deep vein thrombosis. If basilic vein thrombosis is left untreated, a number of serious medical conditions can result, including a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism. Fortunately, there are several effective treatments for basilic vein thrombosis.
Basilic vein thrombosis occurs when a large blood clot forms within the basilic vein, a large vein located in the upper arm and that is responsible for draining blood from the forearm and hand. When a clot forms within this vein, the individual may experience swelling in the face and arm, neck and shoulder pain, and a fever. Basilic vein thrombosis must be treated promptly: if the clot breaks free from the vein wall and travels throught the bloodstream to the lungs, it can severely damage the lungs and possibly cause death.
The most common basilic vein thrombosis treatment is the administration of anticoagulation drugs such as heparin and warfarin. These drugs, also known as blood thinners, prevent the normal clotting of blood and can keep the clot within the basilic vein from increasing in size. They do not, however, dissolve existing blood clots. Heparin and warfarin are often prescribed simultaneously, with the treatment time typically lasting three to six months.
Thrombolytics are medications that resolve basilic vein thrombosis by dissolving the blood clot in the basilic vein. Thrombolytic use can have sudden, severe side effects, including uncontrollable bleeding. Because of this danger, this treatment option is used only for patients experiencing extreme health conditions as a result of basilic vein thrombosis.
Basilic vein thrombosis can be treated with a number of surgical procedures. The most common of these is the surgical implantation of a filter within the superior vena cava vein to prevent the blood clot from entering the lungs and causing a pulmonary embolism. Implanting a superior vena cava filter is usually performed only if the patient is intolerant of anticoagulants and thrombolytics or if the patient's tendency to form blood clots cannot be controlled by the use of these medications.
In many instances of mild basilic vein thrombosis, at-home methods may be recommended for treating the condition. These include bed rest, applying heat to the affected area of the arm, elevating the arm, and wearing a compression arm sleeve that applies enough pressure to reduce swelling and prevent more blood from pooling in the basilic vein and increasing the size of the existing blood clot.