Saturday, 21 April 2012

What is Post-Thrombotic Syndrome?

CC courtesy of Mr Thinktank, Flickr
Post-thrombotic syndrome is a condition that is often experienced by patients who have experienced a deep vein thrombosis. At least 50% of DVT sufferers will go on to experience leg pain, swelling, fatigue and sometimes skin changes including open sores and ulcers.

PTS is caused by the vein becoming damaged due to the clot. Quite often what will happen is that the liver will send out a series of enzymes to break down the clot but the body will also convert the clot into scar tissue which ends up narrowing the vein causing these problems. Contrary to popular beliefs the anticoagulants like warfarin that the patients are given do not break down the clots they merely serve to thin the blood to prevent further clotting.

However, the Society of Interventional Radiologists are looking at minimally invasive treatments to improve blood flow and quality of life for patients who suffer from post-thrombotic syndrome. In a recent study over 93% of patients who had undergone the procedures had a significantly improved symptoms and quality of life.

The procedures that they are investigating include angioplasty which is the insertion of a small balloon in the blood vessel under X-ray guidance to the blockage. The balloon is then inflated to open the blood vessel. Another procedure used was stenting, which is the insertion of a tiny mesh tube to hold the vessel open and used drugs that are inserted through a catheter in the blood vessel to dissolve the clot and restore blood flow (also known as thrombolytic therapy).

Although these procedures are not common place at the moment we can hope that as awareness of PTS is increased more doctors and specialists will recommend these procedures to PTS patients so improve their quality of life.

What are your views on these procedures?

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