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Complications of deep vein thrombosis

Latest research from the nursing and medical journals

Post-thrombotic syndrome is a common and chronic complication of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) that may develop in one out of two to three patients despite optimal anticoagulant treatment.

Many patients with DVT develop post-thrombotic syndrome. Picture: SPL

Most patients develop symptoms within two years after diagnosis of DVT, the majority of these within the first year.

Symptoms of post-thrombotic syndrome may range from skin changes through pain or mild swelling to poorly controlled oedema and chronic leg ulcers. Patients with post-thrombotic syndrome also report significant disability and impaired quality of life which causes considerable burden for them and for the healthcare system.

Compression stockings

This randomised controlled trial set in eight teaching hospitals in the Netherlands aimed to see if elastic compression stockings should be used for two years rather than one after diagnosis of proximal DVT of the leg.

Some patients find the compression stocking problematic saying it is unsightly and uncomfortable so not everybody is prepared to adhere to the treatment. However, this study found that some patients did develop post-thrombotic syndrome in the second year and that this was reduced in patients who adhered well to the elastic compression stocking for two years.

Post-thrombotic syndrome is a distressing, painful and hard to treat complication of DVT but its incidence can be reduced in people who are willing to wear compression stockings for two years.

Mol G, van de Ree M, Klok F et al (2016) One versus two years of elastic compression stockings for prevention of post-thrombotic syndrome (OCTAVIA study): randomised controlled trial. BMJ 353:i2691. doi: 10.1136/bmj.i2691

Ruth Sander is an independent consultant in care of the older person

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