Diagnosis and Treatment of Venous Thromboembolism
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The diagnosis of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) has been improved and simplified over the past decade thanks to advances in noninvasive and readily accessible technology. With high degrees of sensitivity and specificity, venous ultrasonography is favored as the initial investigation for DVT. To diagnose PE, most clinicians rely on diagnostic algorithms that combine clinical assessment, noninvasive lung studies, and, if necessary, venous ultrasonography of the legs and D-dimer testing. Substantial progress has also occurred in the treatment of acute venous thromboembolism with the introduction of low-molecular-weight heparins. This class of antithrombotic agents has changed initial therapy from an inpatient, intravenous regimen that required laborious monitoring to an outpatient practice using weight-adjusted doses of once-daily subcutaneous injections. In addition, several new anticoagulants with theoretical advantages over existing agents have entered phase III studies. Aspects of thrombosis treatment that remain controversial include vena caval interruption and the indications for thrombolysis and surgical thromboembolectomy.
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