Primary venous insufficiency increases risk of deep vein thrombosis

J Vasc Surg Venous Lymphat Disord. 2016 Apr;4(2):161-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jvsv.2015.09.008. Epub 2015 Nov 6.


Background: Varicose veins have been recognized as a risk factor for deep vein thrombosis (DVT). However, venous reflux has not carried the same correlation. This study evaluated the association between primary valvular reflux and DVT.

Methods: We performed a nested case-control study with enrollment of outpatients presenting to the vascular laboratory with signs and symptoms of DVT. All patients had a complete bilateral venous duplex examination evaluating for DVT and superficial and deep venous valvular reflux. Eighty-seven patients with confirmed DVT on venous duplex were selected for the study group. The control group was randomly selected from the same cohort in a 4:1 ratio matched by age and gender (n = 348). Groups were compared for the prevalence of deep and superficial reflux.

Results: DVT outpatients were 4.7-times more likely to have primary valvular reflux than symptomatic controls (65.5% vs 29.0%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.8-7.7; P < .000001). Deep reflux was 2.1-times more prevalent (36.8% vs 21.6%; odds ratio, 2.12; 95% CI, 1.28-3.51; P = .005) and superficial reflux was 4.6-times more prevalent (43.7% vs 14.4%; odds ratio, 4.62; 95% CI, 2.75-7.77; P < .0000001) in DVT patients than in controls. DVT patients were also 2.1-times more likely to have combined deep and superficial reflux than non-DVT patients (13.8% vs 6.6%, 95% CI, 1.08-4.75; P = .044).

Conclusions: The prevalence of primary valvular reflux in patients with DVT is significantly higher than expected. Reflux may be considered as a novel risk factor for DVT. Two-thirds of patients with DVT have pre-existent primary chronic venous disease, which is likely to contribute to post-thrombotic morbidity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Femoral Vein
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors
  • Varicose Veins / complications
  • Venous Insufficiency / complications*
  • Venous Thrombosis / complications*