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Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2004 Sep;10(5):350-5.

Complete compression ultrasound for the diagnosis of venous thromboembolism.

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Division of Angiology, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Dresden, Germany.



Since its first appearance in the 1980s, venous ultrasound has increasingly gained interest of both clinicians and researchers. However, a majority of authors currently are convinced that venous ultrasound has inherent limitations that preclude it from safely ruling out distal deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in symptomatic patients and from detecting proximal and distal DVT accurately in asymptomatic patients. The aim of this review is to present recent lines of evidence indicating that venous ultrasound has developed beyond these limitations.


The major development does not arise from technical progress of imaging but from standardizing the examination procedure. The most efficient protocols now focus on B-mode sonography only but extend the examination to the paired deep calf veins and the calf muscle veins. For such an examination protocol, the term complete compression ultrasound (CCUS) has been coined. Interobserver variability of CCUS resembles that of venography, as do the technical failure rates. By means of a CCUS protocol, the diagnostic work-up of patients with suspected DVT can be simplified significantly. Studies in asymptomatic patients indicate that CCUS has the potential to generate valid data in prevalence and incidence studies and in intervention trials.


Complete compression ultrasound protocols are ready for implementation into clinical practice for diagnosing patients with symptomatic DVT. Research has already benefited from CCUS and benefits further with an increasing number of CCUS-driven trial designs. However, the value of a CCUS protocol critically depends on sound training and on strict compliance with all its details.

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