A lady with a swollen leg on the left came to The Whiteley Clinic. She had been told by her doctors in the past there was nothing that could be done. She was told that the only treatment was a support stocking.
When she was younger, the patient had started the contraceptive pill. Within one month, she had a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) of her left leg. Ever since then, the left leg had been swollen.
Ever since the swelling started, the left leg was tight and uncomfortable on any exercise. Therefore the patient has had to wear a support stocking every time she goes to the gym or does any exercise.
In addition, prominent varicose veins had appeared across the lower abdomen quite soon after the DVT. These veins are worse on standing and disappear on lying down. They lie just around the public bone, just under the pants line.
A swollen leg after a DVT usually means a blockage (occlusion or stenosis) of the major veins in the leg or pelvis. If varicose veins appear on the lower abdomen or up the sides of the abdomen (the flanks) then the blockages are probably in the pelvic veins. This is called Post Thrombotic Syndrome or “PTS”.
In the past, this problem was thought to be incurable.
However nowadays, experts at The Whiteley Clinic can find out which veins are blocked using specialist venous duplex ultrasound. In many, if not most cases, these blocked veins can be opened using a balloon and held open by a metal stent.
This can be done using a simple pin-hole access and the procedure is guided by both ultrasound and X-ray control. Opening the veins up allows the blood to flow out of the leg, reducing the swelling and allowing normal circulation to be restored.
Patients with swollen legs and with no known reason, should all have a specialist venous duplex ultrasound to check the veins are working normally.