Venous thrombosis deep in the lower extremity I80.28

Last updated on: 29.10.2020

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Acute venous thromboembolism; Deep thrombophlebitis; Deep-vein thrombosis; Deep vein thrombosis of the lower extremity; Distal deep vein thrombosis; DVT; Phlebothrombosis; thrombophlebitis profunda; Thrombosis of the deep veins; TVT-UE

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Sudden or gradual, partial or complete occlusion of at least one segment of the deep veins of the pelvis and/or leg (or arm) leading and muscular veins by a thrombus with a tendency to grow and the risk of embolization into the lungs.

Phlebitis is a thrombotic change in the superficial venous system.

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The risk of DVT depends on age and risk factors (see also Man.) Risk of developing the disease at age < 60 years = 1:10,000 per year; at age > 60 years = 1:1,000 per year.

The proportion of TV-OUs is 4-10% of the total collective of TVs (Encke A et al. 2016)

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Occurs particularly in middle and old age (median 60 years), intra- and post-operatively, in cases of bedriddenness, after a heart attack, after trauma to the lower extremities, operations, overexertion (thrombosis par èffort); immobilization, prolonged sitting (e.g. air travel and travel thrombosis), taking ovulation inhibitors (especially in combination with cigarette smoking), during pregnancy, in the postpartum.

The risk of deep vein thrombosis during general surgery/urological/gynaecological procedures (>30 min.) is 10-40%, the risk of lung embolism is 1-4%.

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Especially deep leg and pelvic veins 90% of the cases; in 60% of the cases left leg, in 30% right leg, in 10% both legs. 4 levels: V.ilica 10%, V.femoralis 50%; V. poplitea 20%, lower leg veins 20%. >90% of pulmonary embolisms originate from the catchment area of the inferior vena cava, 60% of these from the V. femoralis.

Clinical features
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Acute, also subacute to chronic, insidious onset.

Early symptoms: Feeling of heaviness of the legs, cramp-like pain in the sole of the foot and calf, subfebrile temperatures, tachycardia, leg edema, cyanosis when standing, pain.

Unilateral increase in muscle consistency (subfascial oedema), superficial vein dilatation = warning veins.

Possibly palpable, pressure-painful vein strand in the depth. Fever, chills, climbing pulse.

Further clinical signs are:

  • n. Payr: pressure sensitivity of the medial muscles of the sole of the foot (medial plantar pain)
  • n. Bisgaard: Kulisse pressure pain behind the lateral malleolus
  • n. Homans: Calf pain with dorsiflexion
  • n. Lowenberg: Calf pain due to blood pressure cuff (100 mm Hg)

S.a. venous pressure points

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  • Duplex compression sonography(method of first choice) taking into account clinical probability.
  • If the results of compression sonography are uncertain or negative, phlebography or D-dimer testing.
  • Diagnosis of thrombophilia: exact family history. Determination of laboratory parameters in individual cases: resistance to activated protein C (factor V Leiden mutation), deficiency of protein C, protein S, antithrombin III, presence of a lupus anticoagulant or anti-cardiolipin antibody, disorders in fibrinolysis or hyperhomocysteinemia, possible clarification of family members who may also have a tendency to thrombosis.

Differential diagnosis
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Acute lymphedema (see lymphedema below); acute stress-induced rhabdomyolysis; acute erysipelas.

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Initial anticoagulation:

  • Full heparinization in therapeutic dosage (good evidence): Weight-adapted with low molecular weight heparin (NMH) e.g. nadroparin (fraxiparin) 2 times/day 0.1 ml/10 kg KG s.c.; only in exceptional cases with unfractionated heparin. S.u. Heparin, systemic.
  • Oral therapy with rivaroxaban (initially 2x15mg p.o./day, after 3 weeks 20mg p.o./day) is also approved.
  • For heparin allergy, see below lepirudine.
  • A sufficient anticoagulant effect must be guaranteed at all times. Therefore, after initiating oral anticoagulation with Marcumar, discontinue NMH only when the INR/Quick value is within the therapeutic range or contraindications have been ruled out.

Changeover to oral anticoagulants:

  • For uncomplicated lower leg thrombosis: 3-6 months.
  • For pulmonary embolism: 6-12 months.
  • In case of the first recurrent thrombosis: at least 12 months.
  • In case of repeated recurrent thrombosis, AT III deficiency, protein C and S deficiency or other thrombophilia factors: 1 year to lifetime.
  • Preparations (see below coumarins, systemic): e.g. phenprocoumon (e.g. marcoumar): HWZ 5 -7 days or warfarin (e.g. coumadin): HWZ 40 days.
  • Remember! Control by the prothrombin time, which is given in INR units. The target therapeutic INR range is between 2.0 and 3.0. However, DOACs are also increasingly used in maintenance therapy, with the advantage of reducing major bleeding. Furthermore in the renunciation of INR controls. The duration of maintenance therapy is 3-6 months, depending on the cause.

Alternative: For the initial therapy of DVT-UE (deep vein thrombosis of the lower extremity), the direct oral anticoagulants (DOAC) such as rivaroxaban (initial 2x15mg p.o./day, after 3 weeks 1x20mg p.o./day) and apixaban (initial 2x10mg p.o./day, after 7 days maintenance dose 2x5mg p.o./day). They can also be used in DVT-OE (deep vein thrombosis of the upper extremity) in this dosage.

Alternative: Regional hyperthermic fibrinolytic perfusion: New procedure derived from hyperthermic perfusion of the extremities in malignant melanoma. Advantages: No AI, no age limits, no systemic NW.

Alternative: Regional hyperthermic fibrinolytic perfusion: New method derived from hyperthermic perfusion of the extremities in malignant melanoma. Advantages: No AI, no age limitations, no systemic NW. Also recanalization of the lower leg floor is possible. Perioperative heparinization, followed by oral anticoagulation (1-1.5 years) and compression therapy (see above)

Further accompanying measures:

  • Sufficient compression therapy!
    • Compression therapy: Apply short-stretch bandages at least up to the height of the thrombus, better up to the groin and until the edema has completely receded. Subsequently prescription of a compression stocking class II-III for 6 months. If the thrombi do not dissolve completely and defects of the venous wall or valve function occur, lifelong compression therapy is indicated as a prophylaxis against postthrombotic syndrome.
  • Mobilisation (good evidence):
    • Immediate mobilization of the patient with isolated lower leg thrombosis is generally advocated today to prevent further growth of the thrombus. In numerous observations, the generally accepted assumption that early mobilization favors the development of a pulmonary embolism could not be confirmed.

General therapy
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Scheme for initial treatment of suspected thrombosis in the doctor's practice (to be used in case of a high degree of suspicion of phlebothrombosis to prevent further appositional growth of the thrombus):
  • Possibly weight-adapted heparinization with low-molecular-weight heparin in therapeutic dosage.
  • Compression bandage up to the groin.
  • Short-term inducement of a duplex sonography.
  • Bed rest is not required for mobile patients.

Operative therapie
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  • Thrombolysis: Only in exceptional cases possibly indicated in young people with extensive initial thrombosis, short medical history, thrombi washed around, acute threat to the extremity and exclusion of thrombophilia. Contraindications must be observed extremely strictly! Treatment by thrombolysis or thrombectomy should be reserved for specialised centres with sufficient experience. Preparations: Streptokinase, Urokinase, Alteplase (rtPA, recombinant tissue-type plasminogen activator), Tenecteplase (TNK-t-PA).
  • Thrombolysis methods: systemic lysis therapy (very high rate of side effects), locoregional lysis therapy.

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  • Mostly spontaneous recanalization, valvular insufficiency. In the case of pelvic vein thrombosis, persistent venous occlusion is more frequent than in the other veins.
  • Cave! The higher the location of the thrombosis, the greater the risk of pulmonary embolism.

  • A high percentage of phlebothromboses are clinically silent or without the known - typical - clinical symptoms. The risk of pulmonary embolism is highest during the first 3 days of thrombosis development.
  • Untreated leg vein thrombosis has a lethality rate of 10% (pulmonary embolism), 80% of patients develop a post-thrombotic syndrome.

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Duration of coumarin therapy


Therapy duration

For uncomplicated thrombosis

3-6 months

For pulmonary embolism

6-12 months

In case of 1st recurrent thrombosis

1 year to lifetime

In case of repeated recurrent thromboses, AT III deficiency, protein C and S deficiency, risk factors (neoplasia/immobilization)


For contraindications against coumarin therapy

Low-dose semi-therapeutic heparinization over analogous periods of time as with heparin therapy

Main criteria

Secondary criteria

Clinical probability of phlebothrombosis

Classification according to main and secondary criteria

Active malignoma (current or treated up to 6 months ago)

Trauma to the symptomatic leg (< 60 days ago)


≥ 3 main criteria and no alternative diagnosis

Paralysis, plaster immobilization of a leg

Dent forming oedema only on the symptomatic side

≥ 2 primary criteria, 2 secondary criteria and no alternative diagnosis

recent bed-ridden (> 3 days) and/or major surgery within the last 4 weeks

dilated superficial veins


1 primary criterion, ≥ 2 secondary criteria, but alternative diagnosis available

circumscribed pain along the deeper vein cords

Hospitalisation within the last 6 months

1 primary criterion, ≥ 1 secondary criterion and no alternative diagnosis

Swelling of the lower and upper thighs


0 primary criteria, ≥ 3 secondary criteria, but no alternative diagnosis

Lower leg swelling > 3 cm opposite healthy side

0 primary criteria, ≥ 2 secondary criteria and no alternative diagnosis

familial distress (> 2 first-degree relatives and DVT)


all other combinations

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Phlebothrombosis and pregnancy: Full heparinization (heparin does not cross the placental barrier) and then low-dose heparin until the end of pregnancy and in the puerperium. Coumarin derivatives (teratogenic effect) and fibrinolytics are contraindicated. Compression therapy see above. Adjuvant measures after acute treatment: A lifestyle consultation: frequent walking, avoiding long standing and sitting, swimming, cold showers, weight and stool regulation.

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Last updated on: 29.10.2020