Significance and management of isolated distal deep vein thrombosis

Curr Opin Hematol. 2021 Sep 1;28(5):331-338. doi: 10.1097/MOH.0000000000000670.


Purpose of review: Management of isolated distal deep vein thrombosis (IDDVT) remains controversial. We summarize recent studies regarding the natural history of IDDVT as well as pertinent therapeutic trials. We also provide our management approach.

Recent findings: IDDVT is more commonly associated with transient risk factors and less often associated with permanent, unmodifiable risk factors than proximal DVT. IDDVT has a significantly lower risk of proximal extension and recurrence than proximal DVT. Cancer-associated IDDVT has a similar natural history to cancer-associated proximal DVT, with substantially less favourable outcomes than noncancer-associated IDDVT. Anticoagulant treatment reduces the risk of proximal extension and recurrence in IDDVT at the cost of increased bleeding risk. Intermediate dosing of anticoagulation may be effective for treating noncancer-associated IDDVT in patients without prior DVT.

Summary: IDDVT with a transient risk factor can be treated for 6 weeks in patients without a prior DVT. Unprovoked IDDVT in patients without malignancy can be treated for 3 months. Outpatients without malignancy or a prior DVT can be left untreated and undergo surveillance compression ultrasound in one week to detect proximal extension, but few patients opt for this in practice. Cancer-associated IDDVT should be treated analogously to cancer-associated proximal DVT.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / adverse effects
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Hemorrhage / blood
  • Hemorrhage / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Risk Factors
  • Venous Thrombosis / blood
  • Venous Thrombosis / drug therapy*
  • Venous Thrombosis / etiology


  • Anticoagulants