Duplex imaging of residual venous obstruction to guide duration of therapy for lower extremity deep venous thrombosis

Elliot J.P. Stephenson, Timothy K. Liem

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    11 Scopus citations


    Background Clinical trials have shown that the presence of ultrasound-identified residual venous obstruction (RVO) on follow-up scanning may be associated with an elevated risk for recurrence, thus providing a potential tool to help determine the optimal duration of anticoagulant therapy. We performed a systematic review to evaluate the clinical utility of post-treatment duplex imaging in predicting venous thromboembolism (VTE) recurrence and in adjusting duration of anticoagulation. Methods The Ovid MEDLINE Database, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects were queried for the terms residual thrombus or obstruction, duration of therapy, deep vein thrombosis, deep venous thrombosis, DVT, venous thromboembolism, VTE, antithrombotic therapy, and anticoagulation, and 228 studies were selected for review. Six studies determined the rate of VTE recurrence on the basis of the presence or absence of RVO. Results Findings on venous ultrasound scans frequently remained abnormal in 38% to 80% of patients, despite at least 3 months of therapeutic anticoagulation. In evaluating for VTE recurrence, the definition of RVO varied widely in the literature. Some studies have shown an association between RVO and VTE recurrence, whereas other studies have not. Overall, the presence of RVO is a mild risk factor for recurrence (odds ratio, 1.3-2.0), but only when surveillance imaging is performed soon after the index deep venous thrombosis (3 months). Conclusions RVO is a mild risk factor for VTE recurrence. The presence or absence of ultrasound-identified RVO has a limited role in guiding the duration of therapeutic anticoagulation. Further research is needed to evaluate its utility relative to other known risk factors for VTE recurrence.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number185
    Pages (from-to)326-332
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery: Venous and Lymphatic Disorders
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Surgery
    • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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