Duplex venous imaging: role for a comprehensive lower extremity examination

D K Badgett, M C Comerota, M N Khan, I G Eid, R P Kerr, A J Comerota
Annals of Vascular Surgery 2000, 14 (1): 73-6
Real-time compression ultrasound (CU) along with venous duplex imaging is the most commonly performed noninvasive vascular examination. It has become the definitive diagnostic test for most patients with deep venous thrombosis (DVT). Some practioners have recommended that CU alone of the common femoral vein (CFV) and of the popliteal vein (PV) are all that is required since a complete examination is time consuming and calf veins are difficult to visualize. However, if only the CFV and PV are examined, all patients with isolated superficial femoral vein (SFV) and calf DVT remain undiagnosed. The purpose of this study is to establish the value of a comprehensive venous duplex examination compared to CFV and PV compression alone for detecting both proximal and infrapopliteal DVT. From January 1996 through December 1997, the initial venous duplex examinations of 5767 extremities in 3067 patients were reviewed and results tabulated according to presence and location of clot. The ATL 3000 with a 7-14 mHz probe was utilized. Studies were interpreted as normal, proximal DVT (popliteal and above, with or without calf DVT), isolated calf, or isolated SFV deep venous thrombosis. If only the CFV and PV had been examined, 30.3% (isolated SFV + isolated calf vein DVT) of all DVT and 4.5% of proximal DVT would have been missed. A complete venous duplex examination altered the care in 288 (30.3%) of all patients examined who had DVT, and is therefore recommended as the standard noninvasive examination when evaluating patients for acute DVT.

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