Diagnosing and Treating Swollen Legs - Dr. Alain Tanbe - Mercy

Mercy vascular surgeon Dr. Alain Tanbe discusses diagnosis and treatment for swollen legs. Learn more at mdmercy.com.

Swelling of the Leg Treated by Vascular Specialists at Mercy

The doctors at The Vascular Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, diagnose and treat a variety of circulatory system disorders. Our vascular specialists can help determine the cause of common conditions such as swelling in the legs and develop treatment plans to address individual patient needs.

About Swelling of the Leg
Leg swelling can occur for a number of reasons including fluid buildup, infection, injury, joint or tissue conditions or a blood clot. The swelling can include the feet, ankles, calves and thighs. Many cases of leg swelling are often harmless and a primary care physician can easily identify and treat the problem. Some cases, however, indicate a more serious problem such as heart disease or kidney failure. Circulatory disorders, such as lymphedema or phlebitis, may also be the cause of leg swelling.
Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms of leg swelling may include the following:

  • Swelling of the feet, ankle, calves or thighs
  • Redness
  • A thumping, painful feeling in the legs

Leg swelling can be caused by several disorders. If the diagnosis is a blood clot in the leg, vascular tests may include:

  • Blood test to determine levels of clot dissolving substance in the blood
  • A non-invasive ultrasound image of the legs to detect blood clots or blockages
  • CT or MRI scans for visual images of the legs
Treatment Options for Swelling of the Leg

Leg swelling caused by a blood clot or vascular conditions can be treated simply with anti-inflammatory medication, pain medication, leg elevation and warm compresses to reduce swelling.  More severe cases may require a hospital visit with more targeted drugs, like blood thinners, to help dissolve the clot or antibiotics to cure infection. In these cases, follow-up treatment for several months will be required to monitor ongoing drug treatment.

For conditions affecting deeper veins in the legs, treatment will depend on the seriousness of the condition. It may require:

  • Antibiotics to kill infection
  • Surgery to remove the vein or bypass the clot and a transplant blood vessel
  • A filter placement in the abdomen’s main vein to prevent clots in the legs from dislodging and traveling to the lungs which can be life threatening
The Vascular Center at Mercy offers comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of circulatory system disorders including stroke and mini stroke, leg pain and swelling, blood clots in veins, aneurysms, varicose veins and circulatory disease.