How is deep venous thrombosis (DVT) detected in patients with pulmonary embolism (PE)?

Updated: Jun 06, 2019
  • Author: Kaushal (Kevin) Patel, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Answer

If a patient is thought to have pulmonary embolism (PE) or has documented PE, the absence of tenderness, erythema, edema, or a palpable cord upon examination of the lower extremities does not rule out thrombophlebitis, nor does it imply a source other than a leg vein. More than two thirds of patients with proven PE lack any clinically evident phlebitis. Nearly one third of patients with proven PE have no identifiable source of DVT, despite a thorough investigation. Autopsy studies suggest that even when the source is clinically inapparent, it lies undetected within the deep venous system of the lower extremity and pelvis in 90% of cases.


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