The history and historical treatments of deep vein thrombosis
Article first published online: 13 MAR 2013
© 2013 International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis
Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis
Volume 11, Issue 3, pages 402–411, March 2013
How to Cite
The history and historical treatments of deep vein thrombosis. J Thromb Haemost 2013; 11: 402–11. DOI: 10.1111/jth.12127, , .
- Issue published online: 13 MAR 2013
- Article first published online: 13 MAR 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 8 JAN 2013 09:10AM EST
- deep vein thrombosis;
- vena cava filter;
- vitamin K antagonist
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a common disease. However, unlike that of varicose veins, which have been depicted since antiquity in art and literature, its description was more recent in the history of medicine. The first well-documented case of DVT was reported during the Middle Ages: in 1271, Raoul developed a unilateral edema in the ankle, which then extended to the leg. The number of reported DVT cases steadily increased thereafter, particularly in pregnant and postpartum women. During the first half of the 20th century, well before the discovery of anticoagulants, many therapeutic approaches were used, and arose from the pathologic hypotheses that prevailed at their time. Despite the development of anticoagulants, and the fact that they were thought to dramatically decrease DVT mortality, numerous complementary treatments have also been developed during the last 50 years: they include vena cava clips and surgical thrombectomy, and are intended to decrease mortality or to prevent late complications. Most of these treatments have now been abandoned, or even forgotten. In this review, we recall also the discovery and the use of vitamin K antagonists and heparin, which have constituted the mainstay of treatment for decades. We also bring some perspective to historical aspects of this disease and its treatment, notably regarding elastic compression and early mobilization, but also abandoned and complementary treatments. In these times of change regarding DVT treatment, mainly marked by the arrival of new oral anticoagulants, efforts of physicians through the ages to treat this common disease provide a beautiful example of the history of knowledge.