As clot does not always dissolve, over time it may turn to a scar and the vein will remain blocked not allowing the blood to flow easily back to the heart (chronic DVT). As described earlier, the blood pools in the leg and patients experience leg swelling, pain and often brownish discoloration of the lower leg skin.
These symptoms of the so-called post-thrombotic syndrome at advanced stages may be accompanied by non-healing wounds (venous ulcers). In these situations patients typically need to wear compression stockings which can offer a significant symptom relief.
Modern minimally invasive treatments are available to re-open veins that have been blocked for years. These are done in a surgical setting. Through a skin puncture at the groin or behind the knee (with the patient in the prone position). Under x-ray guidance wires and catheters are navigated through the blocked vein. Once the blocked vein is crossed a stent is introduced and expanded. Typically, these are outpatient procedures and the patient is discharged the same day, able to walk.