Post-Thrombotic Syndrome

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Topic Overview

What is post-thrombotic syndrome?

Post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) is a complication of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or deep vein blood clot. After a while, this blood clot (usually in your leg), can damage the vein.

Damage to the vein can lead to more pressure in the veins. The increased pressure can cause long-term problems such as swelling, skin damage, and painful sores (ulcers) near the ankle.

PTS can be a long-term problem that lasts for years.

PTS is also called postphlebitic syndrome.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of post-thrombotic syndrome include:

  • Brownish discoloration of the skin.
  • Itching, swelling, slow-healing sores, and pain in the area.
  • Fragile skin on the area, which bruises easily. The skin may be dry and may peel.

How is it treated?

You may need to wear specially fitted compression stockings to treat PTS. These may help with pain and swelling. If you have sores, you may need medicines and bandages to help the sores heal.

Your doctor may prescribe pain medicines. Propping up your leg may reduce pain and swelling.

How is post-thrombotic syndrome prevented?

Medicines call thrombolytics can be used to help dissolve the DVT blood clot and may help prevent PTS. But these medicines also increase the risk of bleeding.

Specially fitted compression stockings may be used to help prevent PTS.

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Other Works Consulted

  • Guyatt GH, et al. (2012). Executive summary: Antithrombotic therapy and prevention of thrombosis, 9th ed.—American College of Chest Physicians evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest, 141(2, Suppl): 7S–47S.
  • Kahn SR, et al. (2014). Compression stockings to prevent post-thrombotic syndrome: A randomised placebo-controlled trial. Lancet, 383(9920): 880–888. DOI: Accessed December 31, 2014.
  • Routhier N, Kahn S (2010). Post-Thrombotic Syndrome. Vienna, VA: Vascular Disease Foundation. Available online:
  • Vazquez SR, Kahn SR (2010). Postthrombotic syndrome. Circulation, 121(8): e217–e219.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jeffrey J. Gilbertson, MD - Vascular Surgery

Current as ofMay 29, 2015