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Observations of the Relationship Between Surface and Deep Leg Blood Vein Clotting FREE

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The summary below is from the full report titled “Superficial Venous Thrombosis and Venous Thromboembolism. A Large, Prospective Epidemiologic Study.” It is in the 16 February 2010 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 152, pages 218-224). The authors are H. Decousus, I. Quéré, E. Presles, F. Becker, M.T. Barrellier, M. Chanut, J.L. Gillet, H. Guenneguez, C. Leandri, P. Mismetti, O. Pichot, and A. Leizorovicz, for the POST (Prospective Observational Superficial Thrombophlebitis) Study Group.

Ann Intern Med. 2010;152(4):I-48. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-152-4-201002160-00003
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What is the problem and what is known about it so far?

Veins are vessels through which blood travels from the body back to the heart. Blood tends to clot in veins in the leg, and complications depend on the vein location. Clots in veins closer to the surface of the leg (superficial venous thrombosis) are believed to cause discomfort and swelling but few other serious complications. Clots in veins deeper in the leg (deep venous thrombosis) can break off and travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism), causing more serious symptoms or death. Researchers have increasingly recognized that people with 1 kind of clot may have both kinds. If people with surface leg clots also often have deeper leg clots, then surface clots may be more serious than is commonly recognized.

Why did the researchers do this particular study?

To see how often people with surface leg clots also have or develop deep leg clots.

Who was studied?

844 people referred to vein specialists for treatment of a surface leg clot.

How was the study done?

The researchers performed a sound scan evaluation of all the participants' leg veins. They repeated the test 10 days later and followed the participants for 3 months to see whether their clots progressed or they developed newer deep leg clots that required medical treatment.

What did the researchers find?

About 1 of every 4 participants with surface clots had deeper leg clots when they were first seen. In about 1 of every 10 who did not have deep leg clots when they were first seen, surface clots progressed or new deep leg clots developed over the next 3 months.

What were the limitations of the study?

The study took place in France, where vein specialists are more common. The findings might be different in the United States or in other countries where patients with leg symptoms are seen by primary care or other specialty physicians. Also, the researchers had trouble finding enough persons to participate in the study.

What are the implications of the study?

People with surface leg clots may have deeper clots at presentation that put them at risk for more serious complications. Those who do not initially have deeper clots may develop them over the next 3 months. Surface clots may be more serious than is commonly recognized.





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