What is the role of the Virchow triad in the pathogenesis of deep venous thrombosis (DVT)?

Updated: Jun 05, 2019
  • Author: Kaushal (Kevin) Patel, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Answer

Venous stasis can occur as a result of anything that slows or obstructs the flow of venous blood. This results in an increase in viscosity and the formation of microthrombi, which are not washed away by fluid movement; the thrombus that forms may then grow and propagate. Endothelial (intimal) damage in the blood vessel may be intrinsic or secondary to external trauma. It may result from accidental injury or surgical insult. A hypercoagulable state can occur due to a biochemical imbalance between circulating factors. This may result from an increase in circulating tissue activation factor, combined with a decrease in circulating plasma antithrombin and fibrinolysins.

Over time, refinements have been made in the description of these factors and their relative importance to the development of venous thrombosis. The origin of venous thrombosis is frequently multifactorial, with components of the Virchow triad assuming variable importance in individual patients, but the end result is early thrombus interaction with the endothelium. This interaction stimulates local cytokine production and facilitates leukocyte adhesion to the endothelium, both of which promote venous thrombosis. Depending on the relative balance between activated coagulation and thrombolysis, thrombus propagation occurs.

Decreased vein wall contractility and vein valve dysfunction contribute to the development of chronic venous insufficiency. The rise in ambulatory venous pressure causes a variety of clinical symptoms of varicose veins, lower extremity edema, and venous ulceration.


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