, Volume 60, Issue 3, pp 575–595

Proficient and Cost-Effective Approaches for the Prevention and Treatment of Venous Thrombosis and Thromboembolism

Review Article


Thrombosis is clearly a common cause of death in the US. It is obviously of major importance to define the aetiology of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) as (i) many of these events are preventable if appropriate therapy, dependent upon the risk factors known is utilised; (ii) appropriate antithrombotic therapy will decrease risks of recurrence; (iii) the type of defect(s) and risk(s) will determine length of time the patient should remain on therapy for secondary prevention and (iv) if the defect is hereditary appropriate family members can be assessed. Aside from mortality, significant additional morbidity occurs from DVT including, but not limited to, stasis ulcers and other sequelae of post-phlebitic syndrome.

Numerous studies have provided evidence that medical patients and patients undergoing surgery or trauma are at significant risk for developing DVT, including pulmonary embolism (PE). Thus, an important task for the clinician is to prevent DVT and its complications. It is important to define risk groups where prophylaxis must be considered. The attitudes and beliefs towards prophylaxis show great regional variations. This is true for the definition of risk groups, the proportion of patients receiving prophylaxis and prophylactic modalities used. For this reason, various ‘consensus conference’ groups have attempted to alleviate these problems; the primary mission of consensus guidelines is to provide optimal direction to the clinician in the setting of clinical practice. If the practice guidelines generated are successful they will assist clinicians in decision-making for their patients, and they will also provide protection against unjustified malpractice actions.

Therapy may be complex, as clinical studies continue to identify more effective treatments. This review includes currently accepted approaches to the treatment of DVT. The clinical course of DVT is highly dynamic. When the response to therapy is not as expected, more than one cause of DVT may be present in a patient. Treatment must address the primary coagulopathy as well as any precipitating factors. The risk of pharmacological intervention must be balanced against potential benefit.

If the incidence of DVT in a given disorder is low and if the mortality rate is similarly low, therapy with an agent known to be associated with a high risk for complications, such as warfarin, would not be indicated. If DVT is seen primarily after surgery or in other high-risk situations, therapy might be limited to a fixed time period. However, if the ongoing risk of DVT remains high or if a history of recurrent DVT dictates, lifelong therapy might be indicated. The recommendations presented are based upon published controlled trials; however, indications for therapy and therapeutic agents of choice will continually evolve.

By applying the principles outlined in this review, substantial cost savings, reduction in morbidity and reductions in mortality should occur.

Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medicine and PathologyUniversity of Texas Southwestern Medical CenterDallasUSA
  2. 2.Dallas Thrombosis, Hemostasis and Difficult Hematology Clinical CenterDallasUSA
  3. 3.DallasUSA

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