The anatomic distribution and pulmonary embolism complications of hospital-acquired lower extremity deep venous thrombosis

Published:March 19, 2021DOI:



      The anatomic distribution of lower extremity deep venous thrombosis (LEDVT) plays an important role in its prevention and treatment. This study aimed to evaluate the anatomic distribution of hospital-acquired LEDVT (HA-LEDVT) and its probable role in the occurrence of pulmonary embolism (PE).


      We retrospectively analyzed the demographic data, ultrasound results, and PE-related findings of inpatients with HA-LEDVT in 28 clinical departments at Peking University People's Hospital between January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2018.


      This study included 1431 HA-LEDVT events: 35.8%, 31%, and 33.3% were left, right, and bilateral LEDVT. Isolated distal, proximal, and blended DVT were detected in 83.4%, 7.3%, and 9.3% of the patients, respectively. The distribution of HA-LEDVT in the left and right lower extremities were not significantly different except in patients aged ≥40 years (left: 2.07 vs right: 1.88 per 1000 extremities, P = .04). For anatomic types of HA-LEDVT, isolated distal HA-LEDVT was 5.02 times more prevalent than proximal HA-LEDVT (1.24 vs 0.26 per 1000 extremities, P < .01). The involvement rates of specific deep veins by HA-LEDVT were highest in the muscular calf vein (87.5%) followed by the popliteal vein (10.1%), superficial femoral vein (9.3%), and common femoral vein (9.2%). HA-LEDVT involving multiple vein segments simultaneously occurred in 338 extremities. HA-LEDVT involving the muscular calf vein and at least one of three connected axial veins of the muscular calf vein occurred most frequently. Eighty-eight patients with HA-LEDVT (6.15%) had PE. The frequency of PE among patients with proximal and distal DVT (7.89% vs 6.23% P = .275) was not significantly different. The incidence of PE was highest in patients with bilateral proximal DVT (15.4%) and lowest in patients with a single right distal DVT (4.5%). PE occurred in 6% of muscular calf vein HA-LEDVT. In isolated muscular calf vein DVT cases, PE were more likely to occur in cases with a >6.05-mm-diameter thrombus than in those with a <6.05-mm-diameter thrombus (10.3% vs 4.2%, P < .0001).


      HA-LEDVT is characterized by a significantly high percentage of DVT in the muscular calf vein. Muscular calf vein thrombosis may be the primary origin of lower extremity deep vein thrombosis. The diameter of the thrombus in the muscular calf vein may be associated with the occurrence of PE. More prospective studies are needed to more fully determine the natural history of HA-LEDVT and develop prevention and treatment guidelines for HA-LEDVT.


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