Popliteal Vein Compression

The popliteal vein is a blood vessel that carries blood from the foot and calf to the heart. Popliteal vein compression refers to the constriction of these veins behind the knee, between the muscle layers that surround them. The constriction slows or blocks blood flow, increasing the risk of clot formation in the legs (deep vein thrombosis). Clots thus formed can travel to the lungs and cause pulmonary embolism, which can be life-threatening if left untreated. Popliteal vein compression generally occurs while standing, sitting or lying down for long periods with the knee extended. It is seen more commonly in men than women.

Popliteal vein compression can go unnoticed until chronic problems occur. Symptoms can include swelling of the legs and appearance of dark tan colored stains around the calf and thicker skin. Ascending venography with dynamic maneuvers is an effective diagnostic examination to detect the narrowing/obstruction in the vein. It helps to determine the constriction by measuring the venous pressure changes.

Patients who experience early stages of popliteal vein compression can wear compression stockings as a treatment option. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended. The surgical procedure involves decompression of the vessels by resecting the abnormal muscle fibers causing the compression.