Prospective comparison of emergency physician-performed venous ultrasound and CT venography for deep venous thrombosis

Stephen A Shiver, Matthew Lyon, Michael Blaivas, Srikar Adhikari
American Journal of Emergency Medicine 2010, 28 (3): 354-8

BACKGROUND: Venous thromboembolic disease is a major cause of mortality and morbidity.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study is to compare emergency physician-performed ultrasound (EPPU) of the lower extremities with CT venography (CTV) in emergency department (ED) patients undergoing workup for pulmonary embolism (PE).

METHODS: This was a prospective study performed at a busy academic ED. Adult patients (>18) undergoing workup for PE were eligible for the study; enrollment was based on a convenience sample, during hours worked by the investigators. Study patients underwent EPPU of the lower extremities followed by CT angiogram (CTA) of the chest and CTV of the lower extremities. Sensitivity and specificity of the ultrasound examination were calculated using CTV as the gold standard.

RESULTS: A total of 61 patients were enrolled. Of 61 patients, 50 (82%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 72%-91%) had negative workups; 11 (18%; 95% CI, 8%-27%) were noted to have PE on CTA; 6 (10%; 95% CI, 2%-17%) were noted to have lower extremity deep venous thrombosis (DVT) on both EPPU and CTV evaluation; whereas 1 patient was found to have an external iliac DVT on CTV, which was not noted on EPPU. All patients with DVT (by either EPPU or CTV) were found to have PE on CTA. Sensitivity and specificity of EPPU when compared to CTV in the diagnosis of DVT was 86% (95% CI, 42%-99%) and 100% (95% CI, 91%-100%), respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Emergency physician-performed ultrasound produces results consistent with CTV in the diagnosis of femoropopliteal DVT. More proximal clots are not evaluated with EPPU and thus may result in a false negative.

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