, Volume 87, Issue 2, pp 79-86,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 26 Sep 2007

Association between long travel and venous thromboembolic disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of case-control studies


The term “economy-class syndrome” defines an infrequent episode of venous thromboembolism (VTED) related to a long travel, namely by plane. However, this relation has not clearly been demonstrated by investigators. We carried out a systematic review and a meta-analysis of cases-control studies that had studied this topic. We realised a systematic review of the literature and selected all the case-control studies published. Two authors carried out a methodological evaluation according to the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network items (concordance was analysed by weighted kappa index), and a systematic analysis of the potential biases of each study was assessed. We carried out the meta-analysis with the data extracted from the studies. We recovered eight cases-control studies. The relation between the antecedent of a long travel and subsequent VTED varied from OR = 1.1 to OR = 4.0 and was found to be significant in four studies. The studies were highly heterogeneous in methodology and so the results obtained about the relation between the long travel and the VTED and the score at SIGN50. Two meta-analysis were carried out: only with travels by plane in which the relation was not significant (OR = 1.21; CI 95%, 0.95–1.55) and with all types of transport, with a slightly significant relation (OR = 1.46; CI95%, 1.24–1.72). We may deduce from this systematic review that there does exist a weak association between episodes of VTED and a long travel, but not by plane specifically. The heterogeneity and the methodological quality of the studies published preclude of more robust conclusions.