Single whole-leg compression ultrasound for exclusion of deep vein thrombosis in symptomatic ambulatory patients: a prospective observational cohort study

Br J Haematol. 2014 Feb;164(3):422-30. doi: 10.1111/bjh.12642. Epub 2013 Nov 5.


International guidance has recently recommended serial proximal compression ultrasound (CUS) as first line imaging for suspected deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Single whole-leg CUS is a routine alternative diagnostic strategy that can reduce repeated attendances and identify alternative pathology. We conducted a prospective observational cohort study. Consecutive ambulatory, adult patients with suspected DVT and negative or inconclusive whole-leg CUS had anticoagulation withheld and were followed for 3 months. The primary outcome was a predefined clinically relevant adverse event rate. Secondary outcomes included technical failure, alternative diagnoses and all cause mortality. 212 patients agreed to participate and completed follow up. One patient was subsequently diagnosed with an isolated distal DVT. The adverse event rate was thus 1/212, 0·47% (95% confidence interval [CI] 0·08-2·62). Technical imaging failure occurred in 11·3% of cases (95% CI 7·7-16·3). Several potential predictors of an inconclusive result were identified on multivariate analysis. 150 (70·8%) patients were provided with a documented alternative diagnosis. Patients who have anticoagulation withheld following a negative or inconclusive whole-leg CUS for suspected DVT have a low rate of adverse events. Technical failure remains an issue: several factors were significantly associated with inconclusive results and may warrant an alternative diagnostic approach.

Keywords: anticoagulation; imaging; thrombosis; whole-leg compression ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg / blood supply
  • Leg / diagnostic imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography / methods
  • Venous Thrombosis / diagnosis
  • Venous Thrombosis / diagnostic imaging*


  • Anticoagulants