Guidance for the prevention and treatment of the post-thrombotic syndrome

J Thromb Thrombolysis. 2016 Jan;41(1):144-53. doi: 10.1007/s11239-015-1312-5.


The post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) is a frequent, potentially disabling complication of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) that reduces quality of life and is costly. Clinical manifestations include symptoms and signs such as leg pain and heaviness, edema, redness, telangiectasia, new varicose veins, hyperpigmentation, skin thickening and in severe cases, leg ulcers. The best way to prevent PTS is to prevent DVT with pharmacologic or mechanical thromboprophylaxis used in high risk patients and settings. In patients whose DVT is treated with a vitamin K antagonist, subtherapeutic INRs should be avoided. We do not suggest routine use of elastic compression stockings (ECS) after DVT to prevent PTS, but in patients with acute DVT-related leg swelling that is bothersome, a trial of ECS is reasonable. We suggest that selecting patients for catheter-directed thrombolytic techniques be done on a case-by-case basis, with a focus on patients with extensive thrombosis, recent symptoms onset, and low bleeding risk, who are seen at experienced hospital centers. For patients with established PTS, we suggest prescribing 20-30 mm Hg knee-length ECS to be worn daily. If ineffective, a stronger pressure stocking can be tried. We suggest that intermittent compression devices or pneumatic compression sleeve units be tried in patients with moderate-to-severe PTS whose symptoms are inadequately controlled with ECS alone. We suggest that a supervised exercise training program for 6 months or more is reasonable for PTS patients who can tolerate it. We suggest that management of post-thrombotic ulcers should involve a multidisciplinary approach. We briefly discuss upper extremity PTS and PTS in children.

Keywords: Deep venous thrombosis; Direct oral anticoagulants (DOAC); New oral anticoagulants (NOAC); Post-thrombotic syndrome; Venous thromboembolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Postthrombotic Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Postthrombotic Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Vitamin K / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Anticoagulants
  • Vitamin K