Life-saving Deep Vein Thrombosis diagnosis

Life-saving deep vein thrombosis diagnosis saved the life of Gill Brackenbury. The story was recently featured in Woman Magazine and explains how a chance conversation with Professor Mark Whiteley led to a swift diagnosis of a potentially life threatening situation.

John Brackenbury had his varicose veins assessed at The Whiteley Clinic in September 2014. He mentioned that his wife had a lump on her left leg which had got harder and hotter and had started to throb. Concerned about the symptoms, Professor Whiteley asked more questions about her health.  When he heard that Gill had also been complaining of chest pains, he advised that she immediately go to A&E.  He was worried that she might have a deep vein thrombosis.

Gill saw her General Practitioner who referred her to the hospital.

After several tests, it was confirmed that Gill did have a DVT in her leg. She also had three blood clots in her lungs. Worryingly, the blood clots had caused a pulmonary embolism which meant that a piece of the clot had broken off into the bloodstream and was blocking one of the blood vessels in the lungs. If left untreated, the clot could have stopped blood flow to the heart – a fatal condition.

Fortunately, Gill got to the hospital in time and received a swift diagnosis and treatment. She was given injections of Fragmin and Warfarin tablets to dissolve the clots. She remained in hospital for six days and it took a further two weeks to feel ‘normal’ again.

Today, Gill is still on Warfarin which will keep her blood thin and she also wears compression hosiery each day.

Professor Whiteley and the clinical team at The Whiteley Clinic recently had the opportunity to meet with Gill who was delighted to be able to pass on her thanks in person.

Facts about DVT

  • In the UK, about 1 in 1,000 people are affected by DVT each year
  • DVT is more common in the deep leg vein which runs through the calf and thigh muscles
  • DVT can affect anybody but becomes more common as we age

Aside from age, other factors that could cause DVT are:

  • Previous dvt
  • Being overweight
  • Genetics
  • Prolonged periods of inactivity eg. flight or rest after an operation

Symptoms to look out for:

  • Swelling, pain or tenderness in the leg
  • An aching sensation
  • Warm skin around the area of tenderness
  • Tightness or pains in the chest

Whiteley Clinic protocols for DVT

The Whiteley Clinic only use gold standard testing to diagnose DVT – a duplex ultrasound scan performed on a high resolution machine by our own trained vascular technologists working to The Whiteley Protocol®. All of our vascular technologists scan veins regularly and are experts in all aspects of venous scanning. To make sure no DVT goes unmissed, all veins are checked from groin to ankle and often even into the pelvis. We would never use the quick alternative that is often used by doctors or clinics as a quick screening test which only takes a few minutes and is quite likely to miss significant DVT.

We do not specify how long treatment should last. Instead, we use venous duplex ultrasound scanning to tailor the treatment that each patient needs, which is dependent on how well they are responding to anticoagulation. By doing this, we have often avoided stopping Warfarin too soon (when clot is still present), or avoided stopping it in patients who have narrowed veins who should stay on the Warfarin to prevent further DVTs.

If you are concerned that you may have a DVT, you should contact your GP immediately.

For more information about Deep Vein Thrombosis, visit

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