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Patient Information

Travel, Surgery and Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot (also known as a thrombosis) that forms in a deep vein, most commonly in your leg or pelvis which can cause pain and swelling. If a clot becomes dislodged and passes through your blood vessels it can reach your lungs, this is called a pulmonary embolism which can cause breathlessness. Deep Vein Thrombosis is treated with blood thinning medications. Although rare, they can be fatal.


The risk of DVT within the general population is 1:1000. This risk is increased with long journeys (more than 4 hours), particularly flying. The evidence is less conclusive for shorter journeys and flights but if you are at high risk it would be worth taking precautions.

Recent surgery further increases the risk.

Other risks include:

  • History of DVT or PE
  • Obesity
  • Limited mobility
  • Over 60 years of age

Travel advice before and after surgery

  • You should avoid long-haul travel for 4 weeks either side of your surgery.
  • Inform your surgeon of your travel plans.
  • Travel socks may be advised for long journeys 1-2 months after surgery.

During long journeys you should:

  • Regularly circle your feet and stretch your legs
  • Take short, regular walks
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid restrictive clothing
  • Always inform your travel company about your recent surgery.

Further information

The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital | T: 0121 685 4000 |