Should patients with venous thromboembolism be screened for thrombophilia?

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Should patients with venous thromboembolism be screened for thrombophilia?

Am J Med. 2008 Jun;121(6):458-63

Authors: Dalen JE

In the mid-19th century, Virchow identified hypercoagulability as part of the triad leading to venous thrombosis, but the specific causes of hypercoagulability remained a mystery for another century. The first specific cause to be identified was antithrombin III deficiency. Many other causes of thrombophilia, both genetic and acquired, have been discovered since then. The 2 most common genetic causes of thrombophilia are the Leiden mutation of factor V and the G20210A mutation of prothrombin. The most common acquired cause is antiphospholipid syndrome. These factors increase the relative risk of an initial episode of venous thromboembolism (VTE) by a factor of 2 to 10, but the actual risk remains relatively modest. Therefore, thrombophilia screening to prevent initial episodes of VTE is not indicated, except possibly in women with a family history of idiopathic VTE who are considering oral contraceptive therapy. Some physicians screen for thrombophilia to aid decision making concerning the duration of anticoagulant therapy. However, several studies have demonstrated that, with the exception of antiphospholipid syndrome, thrombophilia does not significantly increase the risk of recurrent VTE. On the other hand, idiopathic VTE significantly increases the risk of recurrence in patients with or without thrombophilia.

PMID: 18501222 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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