Laterality of Deep Venous Thrombosis Among Trauma Patients: Are We Screening Our Patients Adequately?

Eric S. Weiss, Awori J. Hayanga, David T. Efron, Kathy Noll, Edward E. Cornwell, Elliott R. Haut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Major trauma represents a significant risk for development of deep venous thrombosis (DVT). Duplex ultrasonography is a noninvasive test to identify DVT and has been suggested for screening asymptomatic high-risk trauma patients. While some risk factors for DVT are well described, it remains unclear whether site of DVT development is associated with anatomical location of injury. An association between anatomical locations of injury would serve to highlight the importance of directed screening of those extremities at highest risk. Therefore, we hypothesize that location of DVT correlates with side of lower extremity injury. Methods: We performed an 11-year (1995-2005) retrospective review from the prospectively collected trauma registry at an urban, university-based, level I trauma center. All trauma patients with lower extremity DVT were included. Lateralizing lower extremity injuries were defined as penetrating or blunt injuries affecting only one lower extremity. Fisher's exact test compared concordance between side of injury and side of DVT. Results: A total of 6674 trauma patients were admitted, of whom 40 (0.6%) were diagnosed with lower extremity or pelvic DVT. Mean age of patients with DVT was 39 y, with 80% male, 80% African American, and 55% penetrating trauma. Fourteen patients (35%) with DVT sustained lateralizing lower extremity injuries (6 gunshot wounds, 5 tibia/fibula fractures, 2 femur fractures, and 1 calcaneus fracture). Twelve of these 14 patients (86%) developed DVT on the same side as their injury; (7/7 on right side and 5/7 on left side, P = 0.02). The 26 patients without lateralizing injuries had equal distribution of DVT (39% right, 42% left, and 19% bilateral). Conclusion: Patients who sustained lateralizing lower extremity injury and developed lower extremity DVT had a high likelihood of developing their DVT on the same side as their injury. A larger multi-institutional analysis is needed to assess the correlation between injury site and anatomical location of DVT before suggesting any changes in recommendations for duplex screening.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-71
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • deep venous thrombosis
  • prevention
  • screening
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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