What are DVT and PE? Diagnosis


After the ultrasound, my doctor came into the room and said, 'You have DVT!' They admitted me right then and there.”

— Jill

How do I know if I have DVT or PE?

DVTs can sometimes be difficult to diagnose, because they don’t always cause painful symptoms. And because their symptoms often mimic muscle pain or soreness, you might not even know you have one. If you experience any symptoms, or have more than one risk factor, get yourself checked immediately.

The test to diagnose DVT is quick and painless. A radiologist uses non-invasive sound waves, called a Venous Doppler ultrasound, to check the flow of blood through your veins.

A pulmonary embolism is much harder to detect early, because it almost always means a blood clot has broken away from the vein in the leg and lodged in your lungs. However, if you feel shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or any of the other symptoms—especially if you know you have DVT—seek medical attention immediately.

A PE can be diagnosed using either a CT scan of the lungs (a special type of X-ray that shows detailed images of structures inside the body); or through a special lung scan called a ventilation-perfusion, which shows how much air and blood is getting into the lungs.