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Utility of Impedance Plethysmography in the Diagnosis of Recurrent Deep-Vein Thrombosis

Menno V. Huisman, MD, PhD; Harry R. Büller, MD, PhD; Jan Wouter ten Cate, MD, PhD
Arch Intern Med. 1988;148(3):681-683. doi:10.1001/archinte.1988.00380030187029.
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• Serial impedance plethysmography has been shown to be a safe and effective alternative to venography in the management of patients with clinically suspected acute venous thrombosis. The rate of normalization of an initial abnormal impedance plethysmogram and, consequently, the usefulness of impedance plethysmography in the management of patients with recurrent symptoms is, however, unknown. In a prospective cohort follow-up study, 161 consecutive patients with proved venous thrombosis and abnormal impedance plethysmograms were studied for one year. After 3, 6, 9, and 12 months, the impedance plethysmograms had normalized in 67%, 85%, 92%, and 95% of the patients, respectively. Thirty-five patients (22%) returned with clinically suspected recurrent thrombosis, of whom 31 had normal impedance plethysmograms prior to their return. In 18 of these patients, repeated tests were normal; these patients did not undergo anticoagulant therapy, and follow-up disclosed no subsequent adverse consequences. In the other 13 patients, the test again became abnormal; 11 patients were shown by venograms to have recurrent deep-vein thrombosis. Consequently, 29 (83%) of the 35 patients in whom the suspicion of recurrent thrombosis arose could have been managed with impedance plethysmography alone without the necessity for venography or anticoagulant therapy. It is concluded that normalization of impedance plethysmography tests occurs in almost all patients within nine months, and that serial impedance plethysmography is useful for patient management in nearly 90% of patients presenting with recurrent symptoms.

(Arch Intern Med 1988;148:681-683)


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