University of Hertfordshire

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Screening for venos thromboembolism in patient with COVID-19

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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2021


Pulmonary thromboembolism and deep venous thrombosis occur frequently in hospitalised patients with COVID-19, the prevalence increases on the intensive care unit (ICU) and is very high in patients on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). We undertook a literature review to assess the usefulness of screening for peripheral venous thrombosis or pulmonary thrombosis in patients admitted with COVID-19. Outside of the ICU setting, D-dimer elevation on presentation or marked increase from baseline should alert the need for doppler ultrasound scan of the lower limbs. In the ICU setting, consideration should be given to routine screening with doppler ultrasound, given the high prevalence of thrombosis in this cohort despite standard anticoagulant thromboprophylaxis. However, absence of lower limb thrombosis on ultrasound does not exclude pulmonary venous thrombosis. Screening with CT pulmonary angiography (CTPA) is not justified in patients on the general wards, unless there are clinical features and/or marked elevations in markers of COVID-19-associated coagulopathy. However, the risk of pulmonary embolism or pulmonary thrombosis in ICU patients is very high, especially in patients on ECMO, where studies that employed routine screening for thrombosis with CT scanning have uncovered up to 100% incidence of pulmonary thrombosis despite standard anticoagulant thromboprophylaxis. Therefore, in patients at low bleeding risk and high clinical suspicion of venous thromboembolism, therapeutic anticoagulation should be considered even before screening, Our review highlights the need for increased vigilance for VTE, with a low threshold for doppler ultrasound and CTPA in high risk in-patient cohorts, where clinical features and D-dimer levels may not accurately reflect the occurrence of pulmonary thromboembolism.


© The Author(s) 2021. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this licence, visit

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