(November 15, 2007 - Insidermedicine) Welcome to Insidermedicine's If I Had, where we get a chance to ask an expert what they would do if they had a medical condition.
This week, we had the opportunity to talk to Dr. David Lee, MD, who is a Hematologist at Kingston General Hospital and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Queen's University. We asked Dr. Lee what he would do if he experienced a swollen leg after a long flight.
I'd like to thank Dr. Lee for lending his insight to Insidermedicine's If I Had.
Dr. Lee: Well, if I had a sore, swollen leg after a long-haul flight, the urgency of the response, in part, really would depend on the nature of the symptoms. If this was accompanied by chest pain or shortness of breath, then this would have an extremely high degree of urgency, and I would want to see someone right away. The main concern about leg swelling, of course, is what we call deep vein thrombosis, or a blood clot in the deep veins of the leg. This is something that, if it’s present, there should be no delay in seeking medical attention for this.
The difficulty is that mild leg swelling, which usually occurs in both legs after a long-haul flight, is fairly common. If the leg is red and hot, if the calf is tense and tender to touch, if there is pain and swelling that goes up to the thigh. So, we’re not just talking about the calf, we’re not just talking about a little bit of swelling around the ankles, and it’s clearly not present in the other side, at least not to that extent. Then, that is a good reason to go seek medical attention immediately, and that means going to the emergency department usually.