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Vasa. 2008 Aug;37(3):211-26. doi: 10.1024/0301-1526.37.3.211.

Venous thromboembolism: contemporary diagnostic and therapeutic aspects.

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  • 1Division of Angiology and Hemostasis, Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospitals of Geneva and Faculty of Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland.


To discuss new features that were published during the past few years on diagnosis and treatment of venous thromboembolism (VTE). Progress has been made in assessing clinical probability of pulmonary embolism (PE), in addressing the particular aspects of PE diagnosis in the elderly, in evaluating the diagnostic performance of single- and multi-detector row helical computed tomography (hCT), and in looking at the role of D-dimer measurement and lower limb venous compression ultrasonography in the diagnostic work-up of PE. New therapeutic options have also been proposed. Diagnosing VTE depends upon several, mainly non-invasive diagnostic tools that must be used sequentially, depending on the clinical situation and the local expertise. In the vast majority of patients, a noninvasive work-up is feasible and the diagnostic algorithms are becoming simpler. We focused on new developments of clinical probability assessment, PE in the elderly, potential new uses of D-dimer measurement, advent of multidetector row helical computed tomography and utility of ultrasonography to detect deep vein thrombosis in PE suspected patients. Treatment of acute venous thromboembolism consists of parenteral administration of heparin (usually low-molecular-weight heparin or, more recently, fondaparinux) overlapped and followed by oral vitamin K antagonists that will be administered for a certain period of time (usually 3 to 12 months), depending upon the estimated risks of recurrence and bleeding in each individual patient. Contemporary features include the controversial possibility of reducing the intensity of oral anticoagulant treatment (INR 1.5-2) after an initial full-intensity treatment (INR 2-3) period of 3 to 12 months, and the emergence of new anticoagulant drugs such as direct oral synthetic inhibitors of thrombin or factor Xa.

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