What are the Long Term Complications of a DVT?

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious condition that can cause a range of complications, including post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS). PTS is a collection of symptoms such as pain, chronic swelling, ache, heaviness, skin discoloration and wounds on a leg months or years after a DVT. 

PTS occurs in approximately 20-50% of patients who have had a DVT and can lead to long-term complications. In this blog post, we will explore the long-term complications of DVT in patients who develop post-thrombotic syndrome.


Symptoms of Post Thrombotic Syndrome

Post-thrombotic syndrome occurs when the blood flow in the affected vein is impaired due to damage to the internal vein valves from the blood clot. This damage can lead to chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), a condition in which the veins are unable to properly circulate blood back to the heart. CVI can cause a range of symptoms, including pain, swelling, skin changes, and ulceration.


Woman holding painful leg

Chronic Leg Pain

One of the most common long-term complications of DVT in patients with post-thrombotic syndrome is chronic leg pain. The pain may be intermittent or continuous and may worsen with prolonged standing or walking. The pain can be severe enough to affect daily activities and may lead to disability.


Leg Swelling

Another long-term complication of DVT in patients with post-thrombotic syndrome is swelling in the affected leg. This leg swelling may be mild or severe and may worsen throughout the day. The swelling can lead to discomfort and may increase the risk of skin changes and ulceration.


Skin Changes

Skin changes are also common in patients with post-thrombotic syndrome. The skin may become discolored or thickened, and may develop small veins that are visible on the surface of the skin. The skin may also become dry and itchy, and may be more prone to infections.


Skin Ulceration

Finally, ulceration is a serious complication of post-thrombotic syndrome. The skin on the affected leg may become thin and fragile, leading to the development of open sores. The sores can be painful and may take a long time to heal. In severe cases, the ulceration may lead to infections or other complications.


Managing DVT Complications in Patients with Post-Thrombotic Syndrome

To manage the long-term complications of DVT in patients with post-thrombotic syndrome, there are several treatment options available. Compression stockings can help to reduce swelling and improve blood flow. Under advisement of a healthcare provider, when indicated medications, such as aspirin or anticoagulants, can help to prevent the formation of new blood clots. In some cases, office based minimally invasive interventions may be an option to treat severe symptoms or complications.

In conclusion, post-thrombotic syndrome is a common long-term complication of DVT that can lead to a range of symptoms and complications. It is important to seek medical attention if you have had a DVT and experience symptoms of post-thrombotic syndrome. Early treatment can help to manage symptoms and and possibly prevent long complications such as venous leg ulcers.

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