Thrombosis Australia

Thrombosis Australia is a central information and resource hub for the community proudly brought to you by the Perth Blood Institute



Our Thrombosis Australia Advisory Panel consists of eminent Australian healthcare professionals.

Thrombosis Australia Advisory Panel

If you are a healthcare professional you can access the Thrombosis Australia Professionals site here:

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What is Post-thrombotic Syndrome?

Also known as post-phlebitic syndrome, post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) is a common complication of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). PTS is a chronic condition caused by damage to the veins. PTS can cause a reduction in the amount of blood being carried by the blood vessels, making blood pool in the legs and cause swelling, pain, and even leg ulcers. In severe cases, PTS can cause ulcers in the veins and severe pain. The more times a person has experienced DVT, the higher their chances are of developing PTS. Symptoms of PTS will usually occur between 6 months and 2 years of a DVT.

PTS affects up to 40% of people who have had a DVT(1)

How is PTS caused?

A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clot in the deep veins of the arms of legs, causes blood flow to be blocked through that vein. In certain cases, blood flow may be completely blocked, which results in nearby veins compensating by swelling and taking on the blood flow from the blocked vein. This can cause damage to blood vessel walls and the valves inside veins which prevent blood from flowing backward. These are called “collaterals” and may be visible beneath the skin.

If these collateral veins do not carry enough extra blood, then some may be unable to drain from the legs causing swelling and pain.

What are the symptoms of PTS?

Symptoms of PTS can vary between patients. People often find that symptoms worsen after standing or walking for long periods of time.

Symptoms may include:

  • Aching, cramping
  • Heaviness in the limb
  • Itching, pins and needles in the limb
  • Swelling
  • Discoloration of the skin
  • Hardening of the skin
  • Varicose veins
  • Venous ulcers

Psychological symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of confidence                                    

How can PTS be prevented?

The most effective way to prevent PTS is to prevent a DVT from occurring.                                       

How is PTS treated?

  • Sitting with legs raised can alleviate the symptoms of PTS
  • Using compression stockings
  • Exercising regularly
  • Losing weight
  • Taking painkillers
  • Caring for the wound (in the case of ulcers)
  • Using intermittent pneumatic compression (extreme cases - a device which cuffs around the leg and applies pressure)

Learn more about thrombosis.

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  • Kahn, S., Partsch, H., Vedantham, S., Prandoni, P., and Kearon, C. Definition of post-thrombotic syndrome of the leg for use in clinical investigations: a recommendation of standardisation. J Thromb Haemost. 2009;7(5):879.
  • Kahn, S., Comerota, A., Cushman, M., Evans, N., Ginsberg, J., Goldenberg, N., Gupta, D., Prandoni, P., Vedantham, S., Walsh M., and Wietz, J. The postthrombotic syndrome: evidence-based prevention, diagnosis, and treatment strategies: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation 2014; 130(18):1636.