Background Venous thromboembolism, comprising deep vein
thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism, is common in
Australia and is associated with high morbidity.
Objective This article provides a summary of the risk factors for
DVT of the lower limb and discusses the diagnosis of
the condition using a diagnostic algorithm incorporating
clinical assessment, D-dimer testing and imaging studies.
It also briefly reviews the clinical significance of isolated
distal lower limb DVT and superficial vein thrombosis.
Discussion Many conditions in the lower limb mimic DVT. Diagnosing
DVT on clinical grounds without objective testing is
unreliable. Patients incorrectly diagnosed as having DVT
may be subjected to unnecessary anticoagulation and its
associated risks of bleeding. In contrast, there is a risk of
thrombus extension and embolisation when DVT is missed
or inappropriately treated.
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