Which anatomic variants may contribute to venous stasis in deep venous thrombosis (DVT)?

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

Anatomic variants that result in diminution or absence of the inferior vena cava or iliac veins may contribute to venous stasis. In iliocaval thromboses, an underlying anatomic contributor is identified in 60-80% of patients. The best-known anomaly is compression of left common iliac vein at the anatomic crossing of the right common iliac artery. The vein normally passes under the right common iliac artery during its normal course.

In some individuals, this anatomy results in compression of the left iliac vein and can lead to band or web formation, subsequent stasis, and left leg DVT. The reasons are poorly understood. Compression of the iliac vein is also called May-Thurner syndrome or Cockett syndrome.

Inferior vena cava variants are uncommon. Anomalous development is most commonly detected and diagnosed on cross-sectional imaging or venography. The embryologic evolution of the inferior vena cava is from an enlargement or atrophy of paired supracardinal and subcardinal veins. Anomalous embryologic development may result in absence of the normal cava. These variations may increase the risk of symptoms because small-caliber vessels may be most subject to obstruction. In patients younger than 50 years who have deep venous thrombosis, the incidence of a caval anomaly is as high as 5%. [63]

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!