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International Angiology 2013 October;32(5):447-52


lingua: Inglese

Deep venous thrombosis of the upper extremity. A review

Klitfod L., Broholm R., Baekgaard N.

Vascular Clinic, Gentofte and Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, Hellerup, Denmark


Upper extremity deep venous thrombosis (UEDVT) occurs either spontaneously, as a consequence of strenuous upper limb activity (also known as the Paget-Schroetter syndrome) or secondary to an underlying cause. Primary and secondary UEDVT differs in long-term sequelae and mortality. This review will focus on the clinical presentation, risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment strategies of UEDVT. In the period from January to October 2012 an electronic literature search was performed in the PubMed/MEDLINE database, and 27 publications were included. Clinical presentation: swelling, pain and functional impairment are typical symptoms of UEDVT, although completely asymptomatic cases have been described. However life-threatening, massive pulmonary embolism (PE) can also be a sign of UEDVT. Risk factors: for the primary condition anatomical abnormalities (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, TOS) may dispose to the condition. Malignancy and therapeutic interventions are major risk factors for the secondary deep vein thrombosis in combination with the patient’s characteristics, comorbidities and prior history of deep vein thrombosis. Complications: recurrent deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism and Post Thrombotic Syndrome (PTS) are the major complications after UEDVT. PTS is a chronic condition leading to significant functional disability and impaired quality of life. Diagnosis: compression ultrasonography is noninvasive and the most frequently used objective test with a high accuracy in experienced hands. Treatment modalities and strategies: the treatment modalities include anticoagulation therapy, catheter-directed thrombolysis, surgical decompression, percutaneous transluminal angioplasty and stenting and they may be combined. However, the optimal treatment and timing of treatment remains controversial. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential to prevent PTS in primary UEDVT; however, there is no consensus on which treatment is the best. Anticoagulation is still considered the treatment of choice for at least 3-6 months, until Randomized Controlled Trials may have demonstrated otherwise.

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