Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) – Initial Management

Meagan Wong, MD
Brandon Fainstad, MD
David Garcia, MD – expert review (hematologist, University of Washington)

1. Determine IF a venous thromboembolus warrants anticoagulation versus further evaluation.
2. Determine WHERE anticoagulation should be initiated, inpatient or outpatient.
3. Select WHICH anticoagulation agent to use.
4. Develop a framework for determining HOW LONG to anticoagulate.


Initial management of venous thromboemboli (VTE) depends on vascular location, an individual’s ongoing thrombosis risk and their risk of bleeding. We will work through four separate cases and in the process, answer four basic questions: 1. IF the thrombus should be treated with anti-coagulation, 2. WHERE the anti-coagulation should be initiated, 3. WHAT is the most appropriate long-term agent and 4. HOW LONG to anti-coagulate.

Board Set-up:

Stage 1 – IF (immediate anti-coagulation)?

Case A
A 45-year-old man involved in a motor vehicle accident suffers a right humerus fracture and multiple rib fractures along with a tension pneumothorax. He is admitted to the surgical ICU following surgery and chest tube placement. On hospital day five, the anticipated day of discharge, he is noted to have a slightly swollen ankle. A venous duplex study reveals an acute 2cm non-occlusive DVT in his posterior tibial vein without any proximal thrombi identified. He is ambulating independently and expected to spend the majority of the day out of bed over the subsequent weeks.

How would you classify this VTE? Do you want to initiate anticoagulation?

Case B

An 82-year-old man with COPD and recent diverticular bleed presents to the ED with increased shortness of breath and left-sided pleuritic chest pain. HR is 95bpm, BP 120/80 and SpO2 92%. His ECG reveals sinus tachycardia and CXR with slightly increased lung volumes but otherwise unremarkable. He is found to have multiple left-sided segmental PEs on a chest CTA. He denies any recent history of prolonged travel, surgery or immobility.

How would you define this VTE? Do you want to initiate anticoagulation?

Case C

A 38-year-old woman presents to the ED with three days of right-sided chest pain and shortness of breath. She is afebrile, HR 100bpm, BP 110/75, SpO2 94%. Her CXR, ECG, and troponins are unremarkable. A CT PE reveals two sub-segmental PEs in the right lower lung base. When asked, she admits to possibly having slight swelling in her right leg last week. She denies any recent history of prolonged travel, immobilization or surgery. She is pre-menopausal and not on hormonal birth control. Her mother had an unprovoked VTE at age 48, it is unknown if she has an inheritable hypercoagulation mutation.

How would you define this VTE? Do you want to initiate anticoagulation?

Case D

A 65-year-old man with prostate cancer metastatic to his spine presents to clinic with increased swelling and mild pain in his LEFT leg over the past week. The RIGHT leg is unchanged, and he is still able to walk on both feet. He denies shortness of breath, orthopnea/PND, significant weight gain, fevers or chills. He lives with his wife who is healthy and available to take care of him 24/7. A lower extremity duplex reveals an acute occlussive DVT in the left common femoral vein.

How would you define this VTE? Do you want to initiate anticoagulation?

Stage 2 – WHERE (to initiate treatment)?

Case B?

Case C?

Case D?

Stage 3 – WHICH (anticoagulation agent)?

Stage 4 – HOW LONG (to treat)?

Case B?

Case C?

Case D?

Final Board



Kearon, Clive, et al. “Antithrombotic Therapy for VTE Disease.” Chest, vol. 149, no. 2, 2016, pp. 315–352., doi:10.1016/j.chest.2015.11.026.

Aujesky, Drahomir, et al. “Derivation and Validation of a Prognostic Model for Pulmonary Embolism.” American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, vol. 172, no. 8, 2005, pp. 1041–1046., doi:10.1164/rccm.200506-862oc.

Stevens, Scott M., et al. “Guidance for the Evaluation and Treatment of Hereditary and Acquired Thrombophilia.” Journal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis, vol. 41, no. 1, 2016, pp. 154–164., doi:10.1007/s11239-015-1316-1.

Raskob, G. E., et al. “Edoxaban for the Treatment of Cancer-Associated Venous Thromboembolism.” New England Journal of Medicine,378(7), 2018, pp. 615-624. doi:10.1056/nejmoa1711948

Young, Annie M., et al. “Comparison of an Oral Factor Xa Inhibitor With Low Molecular Weight Heparin in Patients With Cancer With Venous Thromboembolism: Results of a Randomized Trial (SELECT-D).” Journal of Clinical Oncology, vol. 36, no. 20, Oct. 2018, pp. 2017–2023., doi:10.1200/jco.2018.78.8034.

Anemia and thrombocytopenia



A 30 yo F with no significant PMH presents with fatigue and was found to have a hct of 18% and platelets of 9k. Her coagulation panel was normal, LDH elevated and haptoglobin was low. A peripheral smear below shows:

What does the above image show?

What disorders as also associated with schistocytes?