BACKGROUND: There is currently little evidence defining the clinical importance of detecting and treating isolated distal DVT (IDDVT). International guidelines vary regarding diagnostic and therapeutic advice. The potential benefits of anticoagulation are unquantified. We sought to evaluate the feasibility of a randomized controlled study within a modern framework and provide a primary outcome point estimate.
METHODS: In this open-label, external pilot randomized controlled trial, consecutive, symptomatic, ambulatory patients with IDDVT were approached for inclusion. Participants were allocated to receive either therapeutic anticoagulation or conservative management. Patients underwent blinded color-duplex imaging at 7 and 21 days and follow-up at 3 months. Principal feasibility outcomes included recruitment rate and attrition. The principal clinical outcome was a composite including proximal propagation, pulmonary embolism, death attributable to VTE disease, or major bleeding. Analysis was by intention to treat.
RESULTS: In total, 93 patients with IDDVT were screened, and 70 of those eligible (88.6%) were recruited. All patients but one were followed-up by direct contact after 90 days. Allocation crossover occurred in 15 patients (21.4%). The principal clinical outcome occurred in four of 35 of those conservatively treated (11.4%) and zero of 35 in the anticoagulated group (absolute risk reduction, 11.4%; 95% CI, −1.5 to 26.7, P = .11, number needed to treat of nine). There were no major bleeding episodes.
CONCLUSIONS: We have established the feasibility of definitive study regarding the value of therapeutic anticoagulation in IDDVT and provide an approximate point estimate for serious complications with a contemporary conservative strategy.