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Circulation. 1983 Apr;67(4):901-6.

The diagnosis of acute, recurrent, deep-vein thrombosis: a diagnostic challenge.


Recurrent venous thrombosis presents a diagnostic challenge. Venography, impedance plethysmography and fibrinogen leg scanning all have potential limitations, and their role in this context has not been evaluated. We performed a prospective cohort study evaluating impedance plethysmography and leg scanning, plus venography, using outcome on long-term follow-up as the end point in 270 patients with clinically suspected recurrent deep-vein thrombosis. Anticoagulant treatment was withheld in the 181 patients negative by noninvasive testing and was given in patients positive by impedance plethysmography if leg scanning was positive or if intraluminal filling defects were detected by venography. The validity of this approach was tested by long-term follow-up. Three of 181 patients (1.7%) negative by noninvasive testing had a recurrence, compared with 18 of 89 (20%) with positive findings (p less than 0.001). Our objective diagnostic approach has high clinical utility; an objective rationale for withholding or giving treatment was established in 95% of patients.

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