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Keywords:

  • chronic venous disease;
  • post-thrombotic syndrome;
  • thrombolytic therapy;
  • venous insufficiency;
  • venous thrombosis

Summary. Background: Approximately one in four patients with acute proximal deep vein thrombosis (DVT) given anticoagulation and compression therapy develop post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS). Accelerated removal of thrombus by thrombolytic agents may increase patency and prevent PTS. Objectives: To assess short-term efficacy of additional catheter-directed thrombolysis (CDT) compared with standard treatment alone. Patients and methods: Open, multicenter, randomized, controlled trial. Patients (18–75 years) with iliofemoral DVT and symptoms < 21 days were randomized to receive additional CDT or standard treatment alone. After 6 months, iliofemoral patency was investigated using duplex ultrasound and air-plethysmography assessed by an investigator blinded to previous treatment. Results: One hundred and three patients (64 men, mean age 52 years) were allocated additional CDT (n = 50) or standard treatment alone (n = 53). After CDT, grade III (complete) lysis was achieved in 24 and grade II (50%–90%) lysis in 20 patients. One patient suffered major bleeding and two had clinically relevant bleeding related to the CDT procedure. After 6 months, iliofemoral patency was found in 32 (64.0%) in the CDT group vs. 19 (35.8%) controls, corresponding to an absolute risk reduction (RR) of 28.2% (95% CI: 9.7%–46.7%; P = 0.004). Venous obstruction was found in 10 (20.0%) in the CDT group vs. 26 (49.1%) controls; absolute RR 29.1% (95% CI: 20.0%–38.0%; P = 0.004). Femoral venous insufficiency did not differ between the two groups. Conclusions: After 6 months, additional CDT increased iliofemoral patency from 36% to 64%. The ongoing long-term follow-up of this study will document whether patency is related to improved functional outcome.