A review of upper extremity deep vein thrombosis

Postgrad Med. 2021 Aug;133(sup1):3-10. doi: 10.1080/00325481.2021.1892390. Epub 2021 Mar 8.


This review aims to describe the epidemiology, pathophysiology, risk factors, presentation, complications, evaluation/diagnosis, and treatment of upper extremity deep vein thrombosis (UEDVT). Upper extremity deep vein thrombosis (UEDVT) accounts for 6% of cases of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). It can lead to swelling and discomfort in that extremity and can be complicated by pulmonary embolism, post-thrombotic syndrome, and recurrence of DVT. Evaluation can begin with a dichotomized Constans score and fibrin degradation product testing. Diagnosis is typically made with compression ultrasound. Anticoagulation is the mainstay of therapy. Primary UEDVT is known as Paget Schroetter Syndrome (PSS) which occurs due to venous thoracic outlet syndrome (vTOS). Anticoagulation, thrombolysis, and decompression of the venous thoracic outlet are used for treatment but the optimal strategy remains to be elucidated. Secondary UEDVT are most commonly caused by indwelling catheters and malignancy. There is an ongoing realization that UEDVT are more than simply 'leg clots in the arm.' Given the increasing incidence, research needs to be done to further our understanding of this disease state, its evaluation, and its treatment.

Keywords: Upper extremity deep vein thrombosis; paget schroetter syndrome; postthrombotic syndrome; primary; secondary; therapeutic; thrombolysis; upper extremity deep vein thrombosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / pharmacology
  • Decompression, Surgical / methods
  • Humans
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome / complications*
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / methods
  • Ultrasonography / methods
  • Upper Extremity / blood supply
  • Upper Extremity / diagnostic imaging
  • Upper Extremity Deep Vein Thrombosis* / blood
  • Upper Extremity Deep Vein Thrombosis* / etiology
  • Upper Extremity Deep Vein Thrombosis* / physiopathology
  • Upper Extremity Deep Vein Thrombosis* / therapy


  • Anticoagulants