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Surveillance or no surveillance ultrasonography for deep vein thrombosis and outcomes of critically ill patients: a pre-planned sub-study of the PREVENT trial

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We examined the association between surveillance for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) among medical-surgical critically ill patients by twice-weekly ultrasonography and 90-day all-cause mortality.


This was a pre-planned sub-study of the Pneumatic Compression for Preventing Venous Thromboembolism (PREVENT) trial ( NCT02040103) that compared addition of intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) to pharmacologic prophylaxis versus pharmacologic prophylaxis alone. The surveillance group included enrolled patients in the trial, while the non-surveillance group included eligible non-enrolled patients. Using logistic regression and Cox proportional hazards models, we examined the association of surveillance with the primary outcome of 90-day mortality. Secondary outcomes were DVT and pulmonary embolism (PE).


The surveillance group consisted of 1682 patients and the non-surveillance group included 383 patients. Using Cox proportional hazards model with bootstrapping, surveillance was associated with a decrease in 90-day mortality (adjusted HR 0.75; 95% CI 0.57, 0.98). Surveillance was associated with earlier diagnosis of DVT [(median 4 days (IQR 2, 10) vs. 20 days (IQR 16, 22)] and PE [median 4 days (IQR 2.5, 5) vs. 7.5 days (IQR 6.1, 28.9)]. There was an increase in diagnosis of DVT (adjusted HR 5.49; 95% CI 2.92, 13.02) with no change in frequency in diagnosis of PE (adjusted HR 0.56; 95% CI 0.19, 1.91).


Twice-weekly surveillance ultrasonography was associated with an increase in DVT detection, reduction in diagnostic testing for non-lower limb DVT and PE, earlier diagnosis of DVT and PE, and lower 90-day mortality.

Trial registration

The PREVENT trial is registered at, ID: NCT02040103. Registered on 3 November 2013; Current controlled trials, ID: ISRCTN44653506. Registered on 30 October 2013.

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The PREVENT trial was funded by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (Grant AT 34-65) and King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (Grant RC12/045/R), both in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The funding agencies had no role in study design or conduct, data collection, statistical analysis, or writing of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Yaseen M. Arabi.

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Surveillance ultrasonography was associated with an increase in DVT detection, earlier DVT and PE diagnosis, and lower mortality.

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Arabi, Y.M., Burns, K.E.A., Alsolamy, S.J. et al. Surveillance or no surveillance ultrasonography for deep vein thrombosis and outcomes of critically ill patients: a pre-planned sub-study of the PREVENT trial. Intensive Care Med 46, 737–746 (2020).

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