Blood Clots in the Leg Veins

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Topic Overview

Blood clots can happen in veins. A blood clot in a vein close to the skin isn't likely to cause problems. But having blood clots in deep veins is called deep vein thrombosis . Deep vein thrombosis happens most often in the legs. This problem can lead to a blood clot in the lung ( pulmonary embolism ).

The deep veins of the leg have different terms to describe their location:

  • Upper (proximal) leg veins are those above the knee but below the waist.
    • Popliteal veins are located behind the knee.
    • Iliac and femoral veins are in the groin area.
  • Lower (distal) leg veins are those below the knee.
    • Distal leg veins are located in the calf and ankle.

A person with a blood clot in a deep upper (proximal) leg vein is at increased risk for a blood clot in the lung or other complications.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jeffrey S. Ginsberg, MD - Hematology

Current as ofFebruary 20, 2015