Contralateral duplex scanning for deep venous thrombosis is unnecessary in patients with symptoms

Gregory Strothman, John Blebea, Richard J. Fowl, Gary Rosenthal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Purpose: Bilateral lower extremity venous duplex scanning for acute deep venous thrombosis (DVT) has been advocated because of the high incidence of occult contralateral leg involvement. We investigated the clinical necessity of such a policy. Methods: The results from 2996 venous duplex studies performed during the past 2 years were retrospectively reviewed. A total of 1694 of these scans were performed on patients with symptoms, of whom 248 (15%) were found to have an acute DVT. Symptoms were limited to one side in 198 patients, whereas bilateral complaints were noted in 50 patients. Results: Among the patients with symptoms of acute DVT, 72 (29%) had bilateral involvement. Bilaterality was more likely in patients with bilateral symptoms than in those with only unilateral symptoms (56% vs 22%; p < 0.005). Of the patients with unilateral symptoms and bilateral DVT, all of them had either acute (80%) or acute and chronic (20%) thrombosis in the symptomatic leg. The contralateral asymptomatic limb had fewer acute and more chronic DVT (41% and 55%, respectively). No patient from the entire group admitted with symptoms had an acute DVT in the asymptomatic limb without a concomitant acute DVT in the symptomatic leg. Unilateral scanning would decrease the examination time by 21% and potentially increase total reimbursement for symptomatic venous scans by 9% compared with routine bilateral duplex scanning. Conclusions: Although bilateral involvement is frequent in patients with symptoms of acute DVT, treatment in these patients is not altered by this finding. We conclude that contralateral venous scanning in patients with unilateral symptoms is not clinically indicated and that unilateral scanning would result in improved cost-efficiency for vascular laboratories. (J VASC SURG 1995;22:543-7.).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-547
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of vascular surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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