In recent years, deep vein thrombosis
and pulmonary embolism, its major complication, have been increasingly
considered as a single disease entity, namely venous thromboembolism.
Indeed, both autopsic1– and clinical studies2–
have shown that approximately 90% of pulmonary emboli arise from the
deep veins of the lower limbs. Moreover, an asymptomatic pulmonary
embolism can be found in about half the patients presenting with a
symptomatic proximal deep vein thrombosis.3 Finally, deep
vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism share many risk factors, such as
age, major surgery or trauma, cancer, immobilization, pregnancy, oral
contraceptives, and hormone replacement therapy.