Calf Vein Thrombosis Comparison of Outcomes for Axial and Muscular Venous Thrombosis

Thromb Haemost. 2021 Feb;121(2):216-223. doi: 10.1055/s-0040-1715646. Epub 2020 Aug 22.


Background: The objective of this study was to characterize clinical features and outcomes among patients with calf deep vein thrombosis (DVT) limited to the muscular veins compared with axial veins.

Methods: Consecutive patients with ultrasound confirmed acute DVT involving the calf veins (January 1, 2016-August 1, 2018) were identified from the Gonda Vascular Center ultrasound database. Patients were divided into axial or muscular groups based on thrombus location. Demographics, management, and outcomes were compared.

Results: Over the study period, there were 647 patients with calf DVT equally distributed between axial (n = 321) and muscular (n = 326) locations. Within these groups, peroneal and soleal veins were most commonly involved. Nearly all cases were provoked (97%). Synchronous pulmonary embolism (PE) were more common for axial (30.8%) compared to muscular groups (20.2%; p = 0.001); nearly one-third had no pulmonary symptoms. Anticoagulation for a median of 3 months was initiated for 85.5% of both groups. Venous thromboembolism (VTE) recurrence was more common in the axial group (15.9% vs. 7.1%, p = 0.0015) including more frequent DVT propagation (9.4% vs. 3.1%; p = 0.0017) and PE (3.4% vs. 0.6%; p = 0.0168). Major bleeding, clinically relevant nonmajor bleeding, and mortality rates did not differ between groups. Withholding anticoagulation led to more frequent thrombus propagation in the axial group (3.4% vs. 0.9%; p = 0.029).

Conclusion: Several important features distinguish muscular from axial DVT. Axial DVT are more likely to have an associated PE and are more likely to experience recurrent VTE, particularly if anticoagulation is withheld.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscles / blood supply
  • Pulmonary Embolism / etiology
  • Pulmonary Embolism / pathology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Veins / drug effects
  • Veins / pathology*
  • Venous Thrombosis / complications
  • Venous Thrombosis / drug therapy*
  • Venous Thrombosis / pathology*


  • Anticoagulants