Popliteal Vein Compression (PVC)
The popliteal vein, is the vein which drains blood back to the heart from the calf. It is located immediately behind the knee. For a distance of approximately 5 to 7 cm, it runs in a closed space. If the pressure in this space rises, it can be compressed (squashed) closed. If this happens, the drainage out of the lower part of the leg will be compromised. Popliteal vein compression is different from popliteal vein entrapment, where the vein is kinked by one of the muscles behind the knee.
Popliteal vein compression can be associated with an increased likelihood of developing a calf DVT (deep venous thrombosis), varicose veins (in approximately 10%) and there is also a condition where the skin on the inside of the lower calf becomes inflamed, tender and thickened (lipodermatosclerosis or LDS).
Popliteal vein compression is seen mainly in people who are obese. It is generally easily diagnosed with a duplex scan (vascular ultrasound) done in a specialised vascular laboratory (such as South Coast Vascular Laboratory).
Treatment of popliteal vein compression involves opening the space where the popliteal vein is located. This is a relatively small procedure done through a small cut in the back of the knee and can be done as a day procedure.