Doctors usually suspect the diagnosis of venous TOS early in the course of the disease. In the first place, venous TOS usually presents in a quite dramatic fashion. A doctor is not likely to miss this presentation. In general, doctors begin treatment promptly after confirming the diagnosis of venous TOS.
Venous TOS occurs as a result of a blood clot in the large subclavian vein that drains the arm. Blood enters the arm, but cannot easily leave. Thus, patients notice swelling, heaviness, and abnormal color of the affected arm. Symptoms may arise slowly or suddenly. Rarely, blood clots travel to the lungs, and the patient may develop shortness of breath.
The doctor will notice a difference in size between the two arms. Change in color of the skin may appear as a result of slow blood flow and loss of oxygen. The doctor may notice additional abnormal veins of the arm, shoulder or chest wall.
Some authorities believe that abnormal clotting of the blood contributes to some cases of venous TOS. For this reason, some doctors include laboratory assessment of blood clotting when evaluating a patient with venous TOS. However, in most cases, laboratory tests do not contribute to the diagnosis or treatment of venous TOS.
Imaging tests provide valuable diagnostic information in patients with venous TOS. In addition, much of the information provided by imaging tests will guide treatment. With this in mind, it is helpful to understand the advantages and disadvantages of the available imaging tests.
Summary: Diagnosis of Venous TOS
Doctors usually find the diagnosis of venous TOS straightforward and obvious. It is important to understand the symptoms, physical examination, lab tests and imaging tests that contribute to the diagnosis. In particular, imaging tests confirm the diagnosis of venous TOS, but also provide information that is vital to treatment planning. Overall, it is important to diagnose and treat the venous blood clot promptly. If you suspect you have the diagnosis of venous TOS, you should promptly find a physician to confirm the diagnosis.