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Surgery. 1988 Sep;104(3):561-7.

Changing concepts of deep venous thrombosis of the upper extremity--report of a series and review of the literature.

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Department of Surgery, Akron General Medical Center, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine.


Deep venous thrombosis (DVT) of the upper extremity has recently been recognized as being more common than previously reported (probably because of the increasingly frequent use of subclavian venous access). A retrospective review of patients in whom subclavian or axillary DVT had developed in the past 6 years (1980 to 1986) was conducted at the Akron General Medical Center. The major cause identified was related to subclavian venous catheterization, which accounted for 39% of all instances of subclavian and axillary DVT. Our results are correlated with a review of the literature. In our review of studies in which subclavian venous catheterizations were prospectively examined with use of objective means of diagnosis, we found that 28% of all subclavian catheterizations had venous thrombosis develop, often subclinically. This is not an innocuous disease, as suggested in the past; in our series 12% of upper-extremity DVT had pulmonary embolization (PE). In reviewing the recent literature, we found an average 12.4% incidence of PE, which often occurs during anticoagulation treatment. Diagnostic modalities are discussed and treatment regimens are reviewed along with an extensive literature review.

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