MSD Manual

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Some Causes and Features of Swelling During Late Pregnancy

Some Causes and Features of Swelling During Late Pregnancy

Cause

Common Features*

Tests

Normal (physiologic) edema

Similar and equal painless swelling (edema) in both legs that usually decreases when the woman lies on her left side

A doctor’s examination

Swelling and pain in only one leg or calf

Often tenderness, redness, and warmth in the affected area

Sometimes risk factors for deep vein thrombosis

If a blood clot travels to the lungs and blocks a blood vessel there (causing pulmonary embolism), chest pain and difficulty breathing

Doppler ultrasonography of the affected leg to check for a blockage in the veins

Sometimes a blood test to measure a substance released from blood clots (called d-dimer)

If the woman has chest pain and difficulty breathing, CT of the chest or ventilation/perfusion (nuclear lung) scanning

Sometimes swelling in both feet and sometimes in the face and/or hands

No tenderness, redness, or warmth in the swollen areas

Sometimes headache, confusion, blurred vision, nausea or vomiting, or a reddish purple rash of tiny dots (which indicates bleeding in the skin)

Sometimes risk factors for preeclampsia

Measurement of blood pressure and the amount of protein in urine

Blood tests

Swelling in one leg or calf and tenderness, redness, and warmth in the affected area

Possibly pitting of the affected skin (resembling an orange peel)

Often affecting a relatively small area

Sometimes fever

A doctor’s examination

Sometimes ultrasonography to rule out deep vein thrombosis

*Features include symptoms and results of the doctor's examination. Features mentioned are typical but not always present.