Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Do you always detect a leg DVT in the case of a pulmonary embolism?

Nope, but you usually do. Actually, I can do better than this: the figure is about 80%. Furthermore, if you don't detect a DVT in the legs, it is likely that this is only because the DVT is now sitting in the lungs!

While we're on the topic, let's throw a few more figures around carelessly:
  • More than 95% of pulmonary thromboemboli originate from thrombi in the popliteal, femoral or ileal veins (although they have commonly propagated to there from the calf veins).
  • DVTs arising below the popliteal veins that don't extend proximally are surprisingly not a risk factor for pulmonary emboli.
  • Pulmonary embolism occurs in about half of patients with proximal (i.e. popliteal vein or above) DVTs.

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