Difference between revisions of "Deep venous thrombosis"

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Revision as of 12:23, 25 September 2017


DVT of right leg
Large DVTof left leg

Clinical Spectrum of Venous thromboembolism

Only 40% of ambulatory ED patients with PE have concomitant DVT[1][2]


Leg Vein Anatomy

Blausen 0609 LegVeins.png

Significant risk of PE:

  • Common femoral vein
  • (Superficial) femoral vein
    • (Superficial) femoral vein is part of the deep system, not the superficial system as the name suggests!
  • Popliteal veins

Clinical Features

  • Leg swelling with circumference >3cm more than unaffected side
  • Tenderness over calf muscle
  • Homan's sign - pain during dorsiflexion of foot (SN 60-96% and SP 20-72%)[3]

Differential Diagnosis

Calf pain


ACEP DVTClinical Algorithm
  • Clinical exam
  • Risk stratification for further testing indicated using, e.g. Modified Wells Score

Modified Wells Score

Modified Wells Score

Can be applied for patients whose clinical presentation is concerning for a DVT in order to risk stratify.

  • Active cancer (<6 mo) (1pt)
  • Paralysis, paresis, or immobility of extremity (1pt)
  • Bedridden >3 days because of symptoms within 4 weeks (1pt)
  • TTP along deep venous system (1pt)
  • Entire leg swollen (1pt)
  • Unilateral calf swelling >3cm below tibial tuberosity (1pt)
  • Unilateral pitting edema (1pt)
  • Collateral superficial veins, not varicose (1pt)
  • Previously documented DVT (1pt)
  • Alternative diagnosis as likely or more likely than DVT (-2pts)


  • A score of 0 or lower → minimal risk - DVT prevalence of 5%. D-dimer testing is safe in this group - negative d-dimer decreases the probability of disease to <1% allowing an ultrasound to be deferred.
  • A score of 1-2 → moderate risk - DVT prevalence of 17%. D-dimer testing still effective and a negative test decreases post-test probability disease to <1%
  • A score of 3 or higher → high risk - DVT prevalence of 17-53% → patients should receive an ultrasound[4]


The distinction between distal and proximal relates to veins below and above the knee respectively.[5] Patients with superficial venous thromboses such as the long saphenous and short saphenous are at risk of developing a DVT, especially in patients who have a history of prior DVT although management with anticoagulation is controversial.[6]

Proximal DVT

Proximal veins are the external iliac, common femoral, greater saphenous, profound femoral, (superficial) femoral vein, popliteal vein

  • If NO phlegmasia cerulea dolens:
  • If phlegmasia cerulea dolens:
    • Consider thrombolytics +/- thrombectomy
    • Anticoagulate with heparin/coumadin x 3 months
  • If anticoagulation contraindicated:

Distal DVT

Distal veins are the anterior tibial, posterior tibial, peroneal, gastrocnemius, soleus.

  • Symptomatic
  • Asymptomatic with extension of thrombus toward proximal veins
  • Asymptomatic without extension
    • Discharge with compressive U/S q2 weeks

VTE in Pregnancy[7]

  • Therapeutic LMWH or unfractionated heparin anticoagulation dose in:
    • Antepartum outpatient with multiple prior VTEs or any VTE with high-risk thrombophilia until 6 weeks postpartum
    • Postpartum inpatient with prior unprovoked, estrogen-provoked VTE, or low-risk thrombophilia for duration of admission
  • Lower prophylactic anticoagulation dose in:
    • Antepartum outpatient with prior unprovoked, estrogen-provoked VTE, or low-risk thrombophilia until6 weeks postpartum
    • Patients admitted > 72 hrs, not at high risk for bleeding or imminent delivery
    • Resume 12 hours after C-section and removal of epidural / spinal needle in indicated patients
  • Halt anticoagulation if imminent delivery, C-section, epidural / spinal needle

Recurrent DVT on Therapeutic Anticoagulation

  • Admit patients for vascular surgery and hematologist consult
  • Consider Greenfield IVC filter placement
  • Typically start heparin for additional anticoagulation

Anticoagulation Options

Coumadin Regimen

  • Standard anticoagulation regimen
    • Enoxaparin 1mg/kg q12h 4-5 days
    • Coumadin
      • typical starting dose 5mg/day
      • give 7d supply with first dose in ED
  • GFR <30 and/or potentially requiring reversal
    • Unfractionated Heparin 80 units/kg bolus then 18 units/kg/hour
      • Check PTT after 6hr; adjust infusion to maintain PTT at 1.5-2.5x control
    • Coumadin as above

Rivaroxaban (Xarelto) Regimen

  • Standard
    • Start 15mg PO BID x 21 days, then 20mg PO daily (duration depending on risk factors)
    • No need for initial enoxaparin
  • Renal dosing
    • Check creatinine on all patients prior to initiation
    • CrCl <30 avoid use

Apixaban (Eliquis) Regimen

  • Standard
    • Start 10mg PO BID x 7 days, then 5mg PO BID daily (duration depending on risk factors)
    • No need for initial enoxaparin
  • Renal dosing
    • No dosage adjustments necessary for renal impairment, but CrCl <25 mL/minute were excluded from clinical trials

Contraindications to anticoagulation



Consider if all of the following are present:

  • Ambulatory
  • Hemodynamically stable
  • Low risk of bleeding in patient
  • Absence of renal failure
  • Able to administer anticoagulation with appropriate monitoring
  • Able to arrange for 2-3 day follow-up


For any of the following:

  • Iliofemoral DVT
  • Phlegmasia cerulea dolens
  • High risk of bleeding on anticoagulation
  • Significant comorbidities
  • Symptoms of concurrent PE
  • Recent (within 2 weeks) stroke or transient ischemic attack
  • Severe renal dysfunction (GFR < 30)
  • History of heparin sensitivity or Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia
  • Weight > 150kg

See Also

External Links


  1. Righini M, Le GG, Aujesky D, et al. Diagnosis of pulmonary embolism by multidetector CT alone or combined with venous ultrasonography of the leg: a randomised non-inferiority trial. Lancet. 2008; 371(9621):1343-1352.
  2. Daniel KR, Jackson RE, Kline JA. Utility of the lower extremity venous ultrasound in the diagnosis and exclusion of pulmonary embolism in outpatients. Ann Emerg Med. 2000; 35(6):547-554.
  3. Anand SS, et al. Does this patient have deep vein thrombosis? JAMA. 1998; 279(14):1094-9.
  4. Del Rios M et al. Focus on: Emergency Ultrasound For Deep Vein Thrombosis. ACEP News. March 2009. https://www.acep.org/clinical---practice-management/focus-on--emergency-ultrasound-for-deep-vein-thrombosis/
  5. Gualtiero P. How I treat isolated distal deep vein thrombosis (IDDVT). Blood 2014 123:1802-1809; doi: https://doi.org/10.1182/blood-2013-10-512616
  6. Litzendorf ME. Satiani B. Superficial Venous thrombosis:disease progression and evolving treatment approaches. Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2011(7). 569-575
  7. DʼAlton ME et al. National Partnership for Maternal Safety: Consensus bundle on venous thromboembolism. Obstet Gynecol 2016 Oct; 128:688.