Diagnostic accuracy of three ultrasonography strategies for deep vein thrombosis of the lower extremity: A systematic review and meta-analysis Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Compression ultrasonography (CUS) is the first-line imaging test in the diagnostic management of suspected deep vein thrombosis (DVT) of the lower extremity. Three CUS strategies are used in clinical practice. However, their relative diagnostic accuracy is uncertain. OBJECTIVES: This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to summarize and compare the diagnostic accuracy of single limited, serial limited, and whole-leg CUS for DVT. METHODS: MEDLINE, Embase, and CENTRAL were searched from January 1st, 1989 to July 23rd, 2019 for studies assessing at least one of the CUS strategies in adults with suspected DVT of the lower extremity, using clinical follow-up for venous thromboembolism or contrast venography as the reference standard. Study selection, data extraction, and risk of bias assessment were performed in duplicate by independent authors. A bivariate random-effects model was used to compute diagnostic accuracy summary estimates. RESULTS: Forty studies (n = 21,250) were included. The venous thromboembolic event rate after a negative CUS (failure rate) of single limited (1.4%; 95% CI, 0.83-2.5), serial limited (1.9%; 95% CI, 1.4-2.5), and whole-leg CUS (1.0%; 95% CI, 0.6-1.6) did not differ significantly. The proportion of positive results was lower with single limited CUS, as was DVT prevalence in this group. CONCLUSIONS: The failure rates of single limited, serial limited, and whole-leg CUS for DVT appeared to be quite comparable. The relative failure rate of single limited CUS remains uncertain, as the DVT prevalence was lower in these studies. Therefore, this CUS strategy may only be safe in a selected group of low-risk patients. Preference for one of the strategies may be based on pretest probability assessment, feasibility, expertise, and perceived clinical relevance of isolated distal DVT.


  • Kraaijpoel, Noémie
  • Carrier, Marc
  • Le Gal, Grégoire
  • McInnes, Matthew DF
  • Salameh, Jean-Paul
  • McGrath, Trevor A
  • van Es, Nick
  • Moher, David
  • Büller, Harry R
  • Bossuyt, Patrick M
  • Leeflang, Mariska MG

publication date

  • 2020