Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) could be equal or more effective than conventional oral anticoagulants (OAs) in the long-term treatment of deep venous thrombosis (DVT).
Methods: One hundred fifty-eight patients with symptomatic DVT of the lower limbs confirmed by means of duplex ultrasound scan were randomized to receive 3 to 6 months' treatment with nadroparine calcium or acenocoumarol. Quantitative and qualitative duplex scan scoring systems were used to study the evolution of thrombosis in both groups at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months.
Results: During the 12-month surveillance period, two (2.5%) of the 81 patients who received LMWH and seven (9%) of the 77 patients who received OAs had recurrence of venous thrombosis (not significant). In the LMWH group no cases of major bleeding were found, and four cases (5.2%) occurred in the OA group (not significant). The mortality rate was nine (11.1%) in the LMWH group and 7.8% in the OA group (not significant). The quantitative mean duplex scan score decreased in both groups during the follow-up and had statistical significance after long-term LMWH treatment on iliofemoral DVT (1, 3, 6, and 12 months), femoropopliteal DVT (1-3 months), and infrapopliteal DVT (first month). Duplex scan evaluation showed that the rate of venous recanalization significantly increased in the common femoral vein at 6 and at 12 months and during each point of follow-up in the superficial and popliteal veins in the LMWH group. Reflux was significantly less frequent in communicating veins after LMWH treatment (17.9% vs 32.2% in the OA group). The reflux rates in the superficial (22.4% in the LMWH group, 30.6% in OA group) and deep (13.4% vs 17.7%) venous system showed no significant differences between groups.
Conclusions: The unmonitored subcutaneous administration of nadroparine in fixed daily doses was more effective than oral acenocoumarol with laboratory control adjustment in achieving recanalization of leg thrombi. With nadroparine, there was less late valvular communicating vein insufficiency, and it was at least as efficacious and safe as oral anticoagulants after long-term administration. These results suggest that LMWHs may therefore represent a real therapeutic advance in the long-term management of DVT.