Serial testing with impedance plethysmography or compression ultrasonography has been demonstrated to be feasible and accurate for the detection of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in symptomatic outpatients, and these techniques are replacing contrast venography in this patient category. Limited data, however, are available on the clinical utility of these noninvasive tests in symptomatic hospitalized patients. The objectives of our study were to determine the feasibility of ascending contrast venography and to evaluate the accuracy of these two noninvasive methods for the detection of DVT in symptomatic hospitalized patients.
A prospective, "blind" comparison of impedance plethysmography and compression ultrasonography with ascending contrast venography was performed in consecutive hospitalized patients with clinically suspected DVT of the leg.
Of the 127 potentially eligible patients, 44 had to be excluded; 25 of these could not undergo venography (feasibility of venography, 80.3%). The sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of impedance plethysmography for proximal DVT were 96%, 83%, 82%, and 97%, respectively. For compression ultrasonography, these measures for proximal DVT were 97%, 86%, 87%, and 97%, respectively. The overall prevalence of DVT was 53%, of which 85% was located proximally.
Contrast venography cannot be performed in about 20% of consecutive symptomatic patients. Both impedance plethysmography and compression ultrasonography are feasible and valid alternatives to contrast venography in the diagnostic treatment of these patients.(Arch Intern Med. 1992;152:1901-1903)