Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Antithrombotic treatment of below knee deep venous thrombosis
  1. Kerstin Hogg, Clinical Research Fellow,
  2. Andrew Ashton, Senior Clinical Fellow
  1. Department of Emergency Medicine, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9WL, UK;


    A short cut review was carried out to establish whether oral anticoagulation is necessary to prevent pulmonary embolisation in patients with below knee deep venous thrombosis. A total of 425 papers were found using the reported search, of which 11 presented the best evidence to answer the clinical question. The author, date and country of publication, patient group studied, study type, relevant outcomes, results and study weaknesses of these best papers are tabulated. A clinical bottom line is stated.

    Statistics from

    Request Permissions

    If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

    Report by Kerstin Hogg,Clinical Research FellowChecked by Andrew Ashton, Senior Clinical Fellow

    Clinical scenario

    A 50 year old man attends the emergency department with a plethoric, swollen left calf. Ultrasound examination reveals a posterior tibial vein thrombosis. You wonder what the risk of a pulmonary embolus is and whether he should be anticoagulated.

    Three part question

    In [a patient with a below knee venous thrombosis], is [oral anticoagulation necessary] to prevent [a pulmonary embolus]?

    Search strategy

    Medline 1966–04/03 using the OVID interface. [{( OR exp venous thrombosis OR “deep vein thrombosis”.mp) AND (“below knee”.mp OR OR OR exp popliteal vein OR OR OR posterior OR “deep calf venous thrombosis”.mp OR “calf vein thrombi”.mp}AND ( OR exp therapeutics OR OR exp heparin OR exp heparin, low-molecular-weight OR OR exp warfarin OR OR exp coumarins OR] LIMIT to human and English.

    Search outcome

    Altogether 425 papers were found, only 10 original papers and one literature review addressed the question. Some studies included other patients with PE or thigh DVTs—only the patients with calf thrombosis are described (table 3).

    Table 3


    All of these studies could have been more thorough in their diagnostic criteria and/or follow up. However, despite the flaws it is clear that pulmonary emboli do result from below knee thrombi.


    All patients with calf thrombosis should receive oral anticoagulation.

    Report by Kerstin Hogg,Clinical Research FellowChecked by Andrew Ashton, Senior Clinical Fellow