Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE)

Thrombophlebitis, or deep vein thrombosis, is a circulation disorder caused by the formation of a blood clot in a deep vein of a limb. Thrombophlebitis is the leading cause of pulmonary embolism.(1)

  • Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a frequent disease: its annual incidence in France is estimated at 110 000 cases per year (70 000 deep vein thromboses and 40 000 pulmonary embolisms) (1).
  • The annual incidence of venous thromboembolism increases with age (1).

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

  • Venous thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot (thrombus) within the venous network. It usually occurs in the lower limbs, totally or partially blocking the blood circulation (2).
  • DVT often causes no symptoms, but it must be treated because it can sometimes lead to serious complications, such as pulmonary embolism, which causes 10 to 20,000 deaths each year in France (2).

Pulmonary Embolism (PE)

  • Pulmonary embolism is the obstruction of a pulmonary artery or one of its branches (usually by a blood clot) (3).
  • When a blood clot, formed during venous phlebitis or thrombosis (usually in the legs), detaches from the vein wall and moves with the blood into the venous circulation towards the heart, it can then be propelled towards the lungs, into increasingly thin arteries, where it eventually remains blocked, causing pulmonary embolism (3).
  • The severity of pulmonary embolism depends on the extent of the part of the lung damaged by the blocked artery (3).
  • Pulmonary embolism can cause severe hypoxemia (decrease of oxygen in the blood) and affects the right ventricle of the heart (heart failure) (3).

(1) Collège des Enseignants de Pneumologie (2017) (consulté le 02/03/2020)
(2) INSERM: Thrombose veineuse (consulté le 02/03/2020)
(3) AMELI: Embolie pulmonaire (consulté le 02/03/2020)