Venous Thromboembolism: Role of the Clinical Laboratory in Diagnosis and Management

Rugvedita S Parakh, Daniel E Sabath
Journal of Applied Laboratory Medicine 2019, 3 (5): 870-882

BACKGROUND: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is the third most common cause of cardiovascular illness and is projected to double in incidence by 2050. It is a spectrum of disease that includes deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). In February 2016, the American College of Chest Physicians provided updated management guidelines for DVT and PE to address some of the unresolved questions from the previous version and to provide recommendations related to newer anticoagulants.

CONTENT: Here we review current concepts for screening, diagnosis, thromboprophylaxis, and management of DVT and PE. We also describe the management of VTE in acute, long-term, and extended phases of treatment. Thrombophilia testing is rarely necessary and should be used judiciously; the laboratory can serve an important role in preventing unnecessary testing. The direct oral anticoagulants are as effective as conventional treatment and are preferred agents except in the case of cancer. The initial management of PE should be based on risk stratification including the use of D-dimer testing. Thrombolysis is used in cases of hemodynamically unstable PE and not for low-risk patients who can be treated on an outpatient basis.

SUMMARY: This review is intended to provide readers with updated guidelines for screening, testing, prophylaxis, and management from various organizations.

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