A review of upper extremity deep vein thrombosis in pregnancy: unmasking the ‘ART’ behind the clot

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Upper extremity deep vein thrombosis (UEDVT) is uncommon and is associated with well-defined risk factors in the general population. Increasingly, UEDVTs are being reported during pregnancy, particularly those achieved with the use of assisted reproductive techniques (ART), and in conjunction with ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).


We performed this review was to estimate the incidence of UEDVT associated with ART, to examine the risk factors and presentation of UEDVT in pregnancy, and to determine if differences exist between this cohort and the general population.


There were 35 published case reports of UEDVT in pregnant women. The incidence of this condition is estimated to be 0.08–0.11% of treatment cycles in women undergoing ART. The development of UEDVT is not always be preceded by OHSS. In addition, commonly associated risk factors for UEDVT were not often reported for UEDVT that developed during pregnancy. Instead the association of UEDVT and ART was common. UEDVT in pregnancy also appears to involve the internal jugular vein more often than the subclavian vein. The reported risk of thrombus extension in this cohort, despite anticoagulation therapy, is also disconcerting.


Because UEDVT may not be a rare entity during pregnancy in association with the use of ART, clinicians should be better informed of its presentation and clinical course in these women. Once UEDVT develops, appropriate therapeutic anticoagulation should be instituted and patient carefully monitored. The long-term implications and recurrence rate of this condition in pregnancy warrants further prospective studies.

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