• critical care;
  • deep vein thrombosis;
  • incidence;
  • risk factor

Aims and objectives.  To investigate how many critically ill patients developed deep vein thrombosis (DVT) during their admission to intensive care units (ICU) and to compare the characteristics of patients with and without deep vein thrombosis.

Background.  Critically ill patients are a high-risk group for deep vein thrombosis because they typically have multiple risk factors, such as prolonged immobility, mechanical ventilation and old age.

Design.  A prospective observational study was employed.

Methods.  The subjects were 90 patients who were older than 18 years of age, who were admitted to an intensive care unit for more than five days and were not provided any prophylactic measures. Data were collected at a university hospital for five months. A duplex scan was performed on day 2·4 on average and repeated between days 5–7 to diagnose deep vein thrombosis. The iliac, femoral, popliteal and tibial veins were examined by compression and colour Doppler methods of the duplex scan by one technician.

Results.  Age, gender and body mass index were significant factors for deep vein thrombosis development (p < 0·05). Ten patients (11·1%) developed deep vein thrombosis during their stay in the intensive care units.

Conclusions.  The incidence was lower than in Western studies in which patients were not provided prophylaxis, but may increase with an extended observation period as in previous studies.

Relevance to clinical practice.  The results of this study could allow ICU nurses to recognise the DVT incidence in critically ill patients. This result could lead to more active prevention and monitoring of DVT by ICU nurses, especially for high-risk patients, such as older or obese patients.