Natural history of acute pediatric iliofemoral artery thrombosis treated with anticoagulation

J Vasc Surg. 2020 Dec;72(6):2027-2034. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2020.02.042. Epub 2020 Apr 8.


Objective: Acute iliofemoral artery thrombosis (IFAT) can occur in critically ill neonates and infants who require indwelling arterial cannulas for monitoring or as a consequence of cardiac catheterization. Guidelines suggest treatment with anticoagulation, but evidence supporting the optimal duration of therapy and the role of surveillance ultrasound is limited. The objectives of this study were to characterize the kinetics of thrombus resolution and to define an appropriate duration of anticoagulation and interval for surveillance ultrasound.

Methods: This was a single-center retrospective cohort study of pediatric patients with acute IFAT from 2011 to 2019. Medical records and vascular laboratory studies were reviewed. Patients with one or more surveillance ultrasound examinations were included. Thrombus resolution was defined as multiphasic flow throughout the index limb without evidence of echogenic intraluminal material by ultrasound. Time to resolution of thrombus was assessed using Kaplan-Meier analysis.

Results: Fifty-four limbs in 50 patients were identified with acute IFAT. The median age was 9.9 weeks (interquartile range, 3.1-21.7 weeks), with a median weight of 4.2 kg (interquartile range, 3.3-5.5 kg). The majority of limbs (65%) with acute IFAT presented with a diminished pedal Doppler signal, commonly after cardiac catheterization (55%). Forty-eight (89%) limbs had complete arterial occlusion on index ultrasound, and flow could not be detected below the ankle in 48%. The median number of ultrasound examinations per limb was three (range, two to seven), and 61% of limbs had a surveillance ultrasound within 7 days of diagnosis. At 14 and 30 days, 33% and 64% of patients, respectively, treated with anticoagulation had an estimated complete resolution of thrombus. Nine (17%) patients did not receive anticoagulation, and only two of these patients experienced IFAT resolution. At the time of diagnosis, one patient underwent open thrombectomy because of a contraindication to anticoagulation, and one patient was treated with thrombolysis. There were no instances of tissue loss or amputation CONCLUSIONS: Management of IFAT with anticoagulation resulted in successful short-term outcomes. Based on the observed rate of resolution, management should start with anticoagulation, followed by surveillance ultrasound at 2-week intervals. With treatment by anticoagulation, resolution can be expected to occur in one-third of patients every 2 weeks.

Keywords: Access site complications; Femoral artery thrombosis; Neonatal; Pediatric.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Age Factors
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Femoral Artery* / diagnostic imaging
  • Femoral Artery* / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Iliac Artery* / diagnostic imaging
  • Iliac Artery* / physiopathology
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thrombosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Thrombosis / drug therapy*
  • Thrombosis / physiopathology
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler
  • Vascular Patency / drug effects


  • Anticoagulants