(Paget-Schroetter Syndrome, PSS)

What is axillo-subclavian vein thrombosis?

Axillo-subclavian vein thrombosis, also called Paget-Schroetter Syndrome, is a rare medical condition in the general population. But, it is the one of the most common vascular conditions to affect young, competitive athletes. The condition develops when a vein in the armpit (the axilla) or in the front of the shoulder (the subclavian vein) is compressed by the collarbone (clavicle), the first rib, or the surrounding muscle. It is considered a type of thoracic outlet syndrome.

As the person uses his or her arm repeatedly and the axillo-subclavian vein is compressed, the vein becomes inflamed. Over time, fibrous tissue builds up in the vein. The inside of the vein eventually becomes too narrow to allow normal blood flow. As a result, a blood clot forms.

As the person uses his or her arm repeatedly and the axillo-subclavian vein is compressed, the vein becomes inflamed. Over time, fibrous tissue builds up in the vein. The inside of the vein eventually becomes too narrow to allow normal blood flow. As a result, a blood clot forms.

Who is at risk for axillo-subclavian vein thrombosis?

Axillo-subclavian vein thrombosis can occur in people who repeatedly use their arm in a raised position. These include:

  • Young athletes who participate in sports that involve heavy use of the upper arms, such baseball players (especially pitchers), basketball players, swimmers, tennis players and weight lifters
  • People whose work involves repetitive use of the upper arm, such as house painters or window washers

Other people at risk include those who have:

  • A central venous catheter in the subclavian vein for an extended time, such as for chemotherapy or hemodialysis
  • A pacemaker or defibrillator, because the wires pass through the thoracic outlet
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • A blood clotting disorder