The post-thrombotic syndrome frequently develops in patients with proximal deep-vein thrombosis despite treatment with anticoagulant therapy. Pharmacomechanical catheter-directed thrombolysis (hereafter "pharmacomechanical thrombolysis") rapidly removes thrombus and is hypothesized to reduce the risk of the post-thrombotic syndrome.
We randomly assigned 692 patients with acute proximal deep-vein thrombosis to receive either anticoagulation alone (control group) or anticoagulation plus pharmacomechanical thrombolysis (catheter-mediated or device-mediated intrathrombus delivery of recombinant tissue plasminogen activator and thrombus aspiration or maceration, with or without stenting). The primary outcome was development of the post-thrombotic syndrome between 6 and 24 months of follow-up.
Between 6 and 24 months, there was no significant between-group difference in the percentage of patients with the post-thrombotic syndrome (47% in the pharmacomechanical-thrombolysis group and 48% in the control group; risk ratio, 0.96; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.82 to 1.11; P=0.56). Pharmacomechanical thrombolysis led to more major bleeding events within 10 days (1.7% vs. 0.3% of patients, P=0.049), but no significant difference in recurrent venous thromboembolism was seen over the 24-month follow-up period (12% in the pharmacomechanical-thrombolysis group and 8% in the control group, P=0.09). Moderate-to-severe post-thrombotic syndrome occurred in 18% of patients in the pharmacomechanical-thrombolysis group versus 24% of those in the control group (risk ratio, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.54 to 0.98; P=0.04). Severity scores for the post-thrombotic syndrome were lower in the pharmacomechanical-thrombolysis group than in the control group at 6, 12, 18, and 24 months of follow-up (P less than 0.01 for the comparison of the Villalta scores at each time point), but the improvement in quality of life from baseline to 24 months did not differ significantly between the treatment groups.
Among patients with acute proximal deep-vein thrombosis, the addition of pharmacomechanical catheter-directed thrombolysis to anticoagulation did not result in a lower risk of the post-thrombotic syndrome but did result in a higher risk of major bleeding. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and others; ATTRACT ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00790335 .).
The conclusion sentence is simplistic. You were equally likely to get ANY degree of post-thrombotic syndrome no matter what treatment you got. But moderate to severe post-thrombotic syndrome was less likely with intervention. Quality of life was equal across the board but that’s going to differ from one patient to another and becomes a matter of preference and value.