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Preventing and treating deep vein thrombosis


Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a common event in hospital patients.1 The diagnosis is often missed, and its most serious sequel, fatal pulmonary embolism (PE) is still detected in 10% of hospital autopsies.2–3 DVT also commonly leads to chronic venous insufficiency and venous ulceration, treatment of which costs the NHS about £600 million a year.4 Deep vein thrombosis can be prevented in 60–75% of surgical patients,5 but many different prophylactic regimens are used, and some surgeons still use none.6 We discuss here who should receive prophylaxis, how it should be given, and review the treatment of established venous thrombosis.

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