The diagnosis and treatment of venous thromboembolism

Philip Wells, David Anderson
Hematology—the Education Program of the American Society of Hematology 2013, 2013: 457-63
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a common condition that can lead to complications such as postphlebitic syndrome, chronic pulmonary artery hypertension, and death. The approach to the diagnosis of has evolved over the years and an algorithm strategy combining pretest probability, D-dimer testing, and diagnostic imaging now allows for safe, convenient, and cost-effective investigation of patients. Patients with low pretest probability and a negative D-dimer can have VTE excluded without the need for imaging. The mainstay of treatment of VTE is anticoagulation, whereas interventions such as thrombolysis and inferior vena cava filters are reserved for special situations. Low-molecular-weight heparin has allowed for outpatient management of most patients with deep vein thrombosis at a considerable cost savings to the health care system. Patients with malignancy-associated VTE benefit from decreased recurrent rates if treated with long-term low-molecular-weight heparin. The development of new oral anticoagulants further simplifies treatment. The duration of anticoagulation is primarily influenced by underlying cause of the VTE (whether provoked or not) and consideration of the risk for major hemorrhage. Testing for genetic and acquired thrombophilia may provide insight as to the cause of a first idiopathic deep vein thrombosis, but the evidence linking most thrombophilias to an increased risk of recurrent thrombosis is limited.

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