Inferior vena cava atresia predisposing to acute lower extremity deep vein thrombosis in children: A descriptive dual-center study

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Thrombosis in the healthy pediatric population is a rare occurrence. Little is known about the optimal treatment or outcomes of children with unprovoked acute lower extremity (LE) deep vein thrombosis (DVT) associated with atresia of the inferior vena cava (IVC).


We retrospectively analyzed the records of patients with acute LE DVT subsequently found to have IVC atresia who presented to two tertiary pediatric institutions between 2008 and 2016. Data were reviewed for thrombophilia risk factors, treatment, and outcomes.


Eighteen patients, aged 13–18 years (median: 16 years), presenting with acute LE DVT were found to have IVC atresia. Three patients also presented with pulmonary embolism. Fourteen patients underwent site-directed thrombolysis in addition to anticoagulation. Five patients (28%) had confirmed or suspected recurrent thrombosis. Thirteen patients (72%) had no identified provocation for DVT. Ten patients (56%) had post-thrombotic syndrome, and 17 of 18 patients remain on indefinite anticoagulation.


This study suggests that IVC atresia is a risk factor for LE DVT and pulmonary embolism in otherwise healthy children and highlights the importance of dedicated imaging of the IVC in young patients with unprovoked LE DVT. Indefinite anticoagulation may be considered in pediatric patients presenting with unprovoked thrombosis secondary to an atretic IVC.

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