Over 600,000 new cases of deep venous thrombosis are diagnosed each year, with a mortality rate of 1%. Blood clots can form in the deep veins of the arms, legs, and pelvis. Clots are thought to form from any combination of stasis, hypercoagulable state, and vessel injury, known as Virchow’s Triad. Risk factors for DVT include smoking, medications (birth control pills), immobility, long airplane or car trips, hypercoagulable state (e.g. cancer), and traumatic venous injury. Symptoms of DVT include swelling, redness, and painful limb. Complications of DVT include pulmonary embolism (PE) – i.e. when the clot travels to the pulmonary arteries. Symptoms of PE include shortness of breath, chest pain, increased pulse rate, and bloody sputum. PE can be fatal in some cases.
Post thrombophlebitic syndrome is an under recognized but more common side effect of DVT. Blood clots can lead to vein and venous valve damage in as short as eight weeks and can lead to abnormal blood pooling in the legs, known as PTPS. Up to 69-70% of patients may suffer from this long- term sequelae. Standard medical treatment of DVT is anticoagulation, which unfortunately does not actively dissolve clots but rather prevents additional clots from forming and allows the body to slowly dissolve the existing clot. Symptoms of abnormal pooling are similar to varicose veins and include chronic leg fatigue, swelling, and in extreme cases venous ulceration. Studies are now showing early and prompt removal of the clot via chemical and mechanical means can prevent post thrombophlebitic syndrome.