Post Phlebitic Syndrome

What is post phlebitic syndrome?

In the normal person there are no blood clots in the veins. Sometimes blood clots can form in the deep veins of the leg. This is known as deep vein thrombus. The thrombus grows and gets embedded into the vein wall. The blood clot stimulates a myriad of bodily reactions which cause damage to the vein. The body will try to dissolve the clot or some type of drug therapy with blood thinners may be needed to dissolve the blood clot. In time, any vein which has been affected by a blood clot is usually rendered non functional. The valves are destroyed and the vein usually becomes large and flaccid. The result is a persistently swollen leg and pain. This is known as the post phlebitic (post blood clot) syndrome.

What are other features of post phlebitic syndrome?

Post phlebitic syndrome is characterized by leg pain, swelling, itchiness, dryness and eventually skin ulceration as a result of prolonged venous hypertension.

Why does post phlebitic syndrome occur?

Most leg veins have valves (one way doors) to prevent back flow of blood in the legs. Any condition which destroys the valves or causes the vein to lose its elasticity will result in post phlebitic syndrome. The valves are commonly damaged during blood clot formation and the intense inflammatory reaction causes the vein to lose it elasticity. Over time the vein can no longer push the blood up towards the heart and this leads to pooling or collection of blood. The excess blood engorges the veins and starts to leak out of the blood vessels. The blood pigments then interact with the surrounding tissues and produces what is known as stasis dermatitis. The entire area around the ankle develops a dark brownish pigmentation.

How common is post phlebitic syndrome?

At least 30% of patients with venous thromboembolism (blood clots) develop this chronic debilitating disease. The risk of developing post-thrombotic syndrome depends on the ability of the body to restore the vein to its normal function. The condition is not reversible and there is no cure for it.

What is treatment of postphlebitic syndrome?

The only and probably the most effective treatment for post phlebitic syndrome is to wear compression stockings for the rest of one's life. The majority of individuals do claim some improvement over time.

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