Management of deep vein thrombosis of the lower extremity in pregnancy: a challenging dilemma

Am Surg. 1999 Feb;65(2):164-7.

Abstract

This study reviews our experience in the management of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) of the lower extremity during pregnancy and analyzes the outcome of various treatment alternatives, including conventional full-dose heparin therapy and Greenfield filter insertion. Twenty-four patients treated over an 8-year period were reviewed. Fifteen patients were treated with conventional full-dose intravenous heparin therapy for 5 to 10 days, followed by subcutaneous low-dose heparin until labor, and continued for 6 weeks postpartum (Group A); Eleven patients had Greenfield filters inserted, followed by the same low-dose subcutaneous heparin regimen (Group B). There were 18 femoral or iliofemoral, 5 femoropopliteal, and 1 popliteal and below-knee DVT. The indications for Greenfield filter insertion included two patients in Group A (one with pulmonary embolism, despite adequate heparin therapy, and one with significant bleeding). Nine other patients had prophylactic indications: two for free-floating iliofemoral DVT, three with iliofemoral DVT (occurring just 1-2 weeks before labor), and four with femoropopliteal DVT. There were three immediate major complications (pulmonary embolism, bleeding, or death) in Group A; two with pulmonary embolism, one of which was fatal, and one with significant bleeding (3 of 15 patients; 20%). No major complications occurred in Group B. On long-term follow-up (mean, 61 months), 4 of 12 patients (33%) in Group A had significant leg swelling, with partial resolution of DVT in 2 patients and venous occlusion in 2 patients by duplex ultrasound. This is in contrast to 3 of 11 patients (27%) in Group B with significant leg swelling. There was no fetal morbidity or mortality in either group. Conventional full-dose heparin therapy for DVT of the lower extremity in pregnancy can carry significant morbidity and mortality. Greenfield filters may be used safely in some of these patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anticoagulants / administration & dosage
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Heparin / administration & dosage
  • Heparin / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Leg
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vena Cava Filters
  • Venous Thrombosis / therapy*

Substances

  • Anticoagulants
  • Heparin