Background: The purpose of this study was to determine the clinical predictors associated with long-term thrombotic recurrences necessitating surgical intervention after initial success with nonoperative management of patients with primary subclavian vein thrombosis.
Methods: Sixty-four patients treated for Paget-Schroetter syndrome from 1996 to 2005 at our institution were reviewed. The standardized protocol for treatment includes catheter-directed thrombolysis, a short period of anticoagulation, and selective surgical decompression for patients with persistent symptoms. First-rib resection was performed in 29 patients (45%) within the first 3 months, with a success rate of 93%. The remaining 35 patients (55%) were treated nonoperatively and constitute this study's population.
Results: Of the 35 patients with successful nonoperative management, 8 (23%) developed recurrent thrombotic events of the same extremity at a mean follow-up time of 13 months after thrombolysis (range, 6-33 months). These eight patients subsequently underwent first-rib resection with a 100% success rate without further sequelae at a mean follow-up time of 51 months (range, 2-103 months). The other 27 patients remained symptom free at a mean follow-up interval of 55 months (range, 10-110 months). Bivariate analyses determined that the use of a stent during the initial thrombolysis was associated with thrombotic recurrence (P = .05). The recurrence group was also significantly younger than the asymptomatic group (22 vs 36 years; P = .01). Sex, being a competitive athlete, a history of trauma, whether the dominant arm was affected, time of delay to lysis, initial clot burden, response to original lysis, use of adjunctive balloons or mechanical thrombectomy devices, residual stenosis on venography, length of time on warfarin, and patency of the vein on follow-up duplex examination were all characteristics not associated with long-term recurrence after nonoperative management.
Conclusions: Conservative nonoperative management of primary subclavian vein thrombosis can be successfully used with acceptable long-term results. A younger age (<28 years old) and the use of a stent during initial thrombolysis are factors associated with long-term recurrent thrombosis. Younger patients should be offered early surgical decompression, and the use of stents without thoracic outlet decompression is not indicated.