VTOS is a Medical Emergency: Elise’s Story

VTOS is a Medical Emergency: Elise’s Story

On October 24, 2023, my 13-year-old daughter Elise’s arm began to swell and change color during swim practice.

Elise has been a competitive swimmer since she was five years old and being at practice was a routine part of her day for many, many years. Her coaches did not know what was wrong with her and were not concerned. We now know that a limb swelling and changing color is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention.

I brought her to the emergency room and we learned that she had a blood clot in her subclavian vein. Her official diagnosis was venous thoracic outlet syndrome (VTOS), which is common in otherwise healthy young people who do sports with overhead, repetitive arm movements.

The next day she underwent a thrombectomy and two weeks later she had a first-rib resection, scalene muscle removal, and a repeat venogram and angioplasty. This has changed my daughter’s life in that she has stopped participating in competitive swimming.

We hope to spread the word about VTOS so that other coaches and families know the signs of an upper-extremity blood clot.


Blood Clots in Children Resources
Blood Clots in Children PDF
Signs and Symptoms of Blood Clots

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