Is bilateral ultrasound scanning of the legs necessary for patients with unilateral symptoms of deep vein thrombosis?

Nicholas D. Garcia, Mark D. Morasch*, James L. Ebaugh, Somal Shah, Donna Blackburn, Patricia Astleford, Jon S. Matsumura, James S.T. Yao, William H. Pearce

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the necessity of bilateral lower-extremity venous duplex ultrasound scanning in patients with unilateral symptoms of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Patients and Methods: A retrospective review of 1080 bilateral venous duplex scans was performed. Patients were randomly selected from a total of 7922 studied between May 1998 and May 2000. Data on patient age, sex, comorbidity, and the reason for ultrasound scan were compiled. Forty percent (435/1080) of patients presented with unilateral symptoms of lower-extremity DVT. This group was further analyzed according to their status as inpatients or outpatients. Results: DVT was diagnosed in 26.9% (117/435) of the patients. Of the inpatients found to have DVT, the thrombus was confined to the symptomatic leg in 23.8% (38/159), thrombus was present just in the asymptomatic leg in 8/159 (5.0%), and thrombus was found in both legs in 8/159 (5.0%). In the outpatient group, thrombus was confined to the symptomatic leg in 21.0% (58/276) and found in both legs in 1.8% (5/276). None of the 276 outpatients had DVT isolated in the asymptomatic leg. Conclusion: Routine bilateral lower-extremity venous duplex studies are not necessary in outpatients presenting with unilateral symptoms. In many outpatients, a single-limb study will suffice. If a patient is found to have a DVT on the symptomatic side, then we believe that a bilateral study is indicated. We do believe that routine bilateral scanning of inpatients remains justified. This algorithm may save technician time and increase vascular laboratory efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)792-797
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery
Volume34
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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    Garcia, N. D., Morasch, M. D., Ebaugh, J. L., Shah, S., Blackburn, D., Astleford, P., Matsumura, J. S., Yao, J. S. T., & Pearce, W. H. (2001). Is bilateral ultrasound scanning of the legs necessary for patients with unilateral symptoms of deep vein thrombosis? Journal of Vascular Surgery, 34(5), 792-797. https://doi.org/10.1067/mva.2001.118805