What is the role of surgical thrombectomy in the treatment 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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Surgical thrombus removal has traditionally been used in patients with massive swelling and phlegmasia cerulea dolens. In many patients, fibrinolysis alone is highly effective, and it has become the primary treatment of choice for many forms of venous and arterial thrombosis. Unfortunately, when thrombosis is extensive, fibrinolysis alone may be inadequate to dissolve the volume of thrombus present. Even when the bulk of the thrombus is not excessive, many patients with thrombosis are poor candidates for fibrinolysis because of recent surgery or trauma involving the central nervous system or other noncompressible areas.

Precisely defining the location and extent of thrombosis before considering any surgical approach to the problem is important. Duplex ultrasonography may sometimes be sufficient for this purpose, but venography (including routine contralateral iliocavography) is a more reliable guide to the anatomy and the particular pathology that must be addressed.

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