Deep venous thrombosis of extremities: Role of MR imaging in the diagnosis

William A. Erdman, Hal T. Jayson, Helen C. Redman, George L. Miller, Robert W. Parkey, Ronald M Peshock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Current noninvasive imaging techniques for diagnosis of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) of extremities are limited in their ability to demonstrate central vein involvement and to distinguish acute from chronic changes. The utility of spin-echo magnetic resonance (MR) imaging for DVT was evaluated in 100 patients suspected of having either upper- (n = 25) or lower-extremity (n = 75) DVT. Ninety-seven patients were imaged successfully. In a subset of 36 patients, prospective comparison of MR imaging with contrast venography revealed a sensitivity of 90%, specificity of 100%, and Kappa level of agreement of .752 (P < .0001). MR imaging showed more central extent of thrombus than did venography in all five patients with upper-extremity DVT and in 13 of 25 patients (52%) with lower-extremity DVT. Although all patients in the study were evaluated for acute symptoms, 13 of 59 (22%) MR imaging studies positive for DVT demonstrated chronic disease. MR images demonstrated ancillary abnormalities in 18 of 41 (44%) patients who did not have DVT. Thus, MR imaging has a role as the definitive examination when the results of initial screening studies are unsatisfactory, or as a first-line examination if (a) there is suspicion of upper-extremity or pelvic vein thrombosis, (b) there is a history of prior DVT that necessitates distinction of acute from chronic changes, or (c) other tests are unavailable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-431
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990


  • extremities, MR studies
  • extremities, thrombosis
  • magnetic resonance (MR), comparative studies
  • magnetic resonance (MR), utilization
  • thrombosis, venous
  • veins, MR studies
  • veins, extremities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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