Background: Recent observations suggest that upper extremity deep vein thrombosis (DVT) has become more common over the last few decades. However the prevalence of this disorder within the community has not been established. The purpose of this study was to compare the occurrence rate, risk factor profile, management strategies, and hospital outcomes in patients with upper versus lower extremity DVT in a cohort of all Worcester residents diagnosed with venous thromboembolism (VTE) in 1999.
Methods: The medical records of all residents from the Worcester, MA statistical metropolitan area (2000 census=478,000) diagnosed with ICD-9 codes consistent with possible DVT and/or pulmonary embolism at all 11 Worcester hospitals during the years 1999, 2001, and 2003 are being reviewed by trained data abstractors. Validation of each case of VTE is performed using prespecified criteria.
Results: A total of 483 cases have been validated as acute DVT events - this represents all cases of DVT occurring in residents of the Worcester SMSA in 1999. For purposes of this analysis we have excluded 4 patients with both upper and lower extremity DVT. Upper extremity DVT was diagnosed in 68 (14.2%) of patients versus 411 (85.8%) cases of lower extremity DVT. Patients with upper extremity DVT were younger, more likely to be Hispanic, more likely to have renal disease and more likely to have had a recent central venous catheter, infection, surgery, ICU stay, or chemotherapy than patients with lower extremity DVT. They were less likely to have had a prior DVT or to have developed their current DVT as an outpatient. Although less likely to be treated with heparin, LMWH, or warfarin they were more likely to suffer major bleeding complications. Recurrence rates of VTE during hospitalization were very low in both groups.
Conclusions: Patients with upper extremity DVT comprise a small but clinically important proportion of all patients with DVT in the community setting. Their risk profiles differs from patients with lower extremity DVT suggesting strategies for DVT prophylaxis and treatment for this group may need to be tailored.
Characteristics of Patients with Upper versus Lower Extremity DVT Upper extremity (n=68) Lower extremity (n=417) P value *Recent = < 3 months Demographics Mean Age, yrs 59.3 66.5 <0.001 Male (%) 51.5 45 NS Race (%) <0.05 White 86.6 91.6 Black 1.5 3.2 Hispanic 9.0 2.0 VTE Setting (%) <0.001 Community 53.8 76.2 Hospital Acquired 46.2 23.8 Risk Factors (%) Recent Central Venous Catheter 61.8 11.9 <0.001 Recent Infection 48.5 32.4 <0.01 Recent Surgery 47.8 28.1 <0.001 Cancer 44.1 32.6 0.06 Recent Immobility 38.2 47.0 NS Recent chemotherapy 25 9.5 <0.001 Renal disease 23.5 1.7 <0.0001 Recent ICU discharge 23.5 15.1 0.07 Recent CHF 19.1 16.6 NS Previous DVT 3.0 18.7 <0.01 Anticoagulant prophylaxis (%) During hospital admission (n=125) 76.7 71.6 NS During recent prior hospital admission (n=188) 73.7 54.7 <0.05 During recent surgery (n=146) 62.5 55.3 NS Hospital therapy - treatment doses (%) Any heparin/LMWH 66.2 82 <0.01 Warfarin at discharge 53.1 71.2 <0.01 Hospital Outcomes (%) Length of stay (mean, d) 11.2 6.8 <0.01 Major bleeding 11.8 4.9 <0.05 Recurrent DVT 1.5 1.0 NS Recurrent PE 0 0.2 NS Hospital Mortality 4.5 4.1 NS