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Arch Dis Child. 2001 Sep;85(3):228-33.

Long term complications of inferior vena cava thrombosis.

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Department of Paediatrics, University Hospital RWTH Aachen, Pauwelsstr. 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany.



To evaluate the long term outcome after paediatric inferior vena cava (IVC) thrombosis.


A combined retrospective and prospective study on infants and children with IVC thrombosis treated at Aachen and Maastricht University Hospitals between 1980 and 1999.


Forty patients were enrolled, including four with preceding cardiac catheterisation, 18 with central venous saphenous lines, and an additional eight with umbilical venous catheters. Six patients died within three months of diagnosis; one patient was lost to follow up. Twelve of the remaining 33 patients had suffered from limited IVC thrombosis; during follow up (for up to nine years) none showed persisting caval obstruction (successful thrombolysis, n = 2; spontaneous recanalisation, n = 10). The remaining 21 patients presented with extensive IVC thrombosis. During follow up (for up to 18 years) complete restitution was found in only four cases (one thrombolysis, two surgery, one spontaneous recanalisation). Persisting iliac and/or caval venous obstruction occurred in 17 patients, including six with thrombolysis. Varicose veins were found in 12, and post-thrombotic syndrome in seven of these cases. According to Kaplan-Meier analysis, 30% of patients with persisting venous disease will develop post-thrombotic syndrome within 10 years of the thrombotic event.


Infants and children with extensive IVC thrombosis are at high risk for persisting venous disease and serious long term complications. Prospective trials are urgently needed to establish effective treatment strategies and to improve long term prognosis. Central venous catheters, contributing to IVC thrombosis in the majority of cases reported here, should be inserted only if essential.

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