January 1987

The Clinical Implications of Bilaterally Abnormal Impedance Plethysmography

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine (Drs Curley, Pratter, Irwin, Doherty, and Dalen), and the Department of Radiology (Dr Phillips), University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester.

Arch Intern Med. 1987;147(1):125-129. doi:10.1001/archinte.1987.00370010123027

• Although impedance plethysmography (IPG) is a test of recognized value in the diagnosis of acute proximal deep venous thrombosis (DVT), its meaning in patients with bilaterally abnormal IPGs is unclear. Consequently, we sought to determine the clinical significance of the bilaterally abnormal IPG in hospitalized patients. In a five-month prospective study, 19% (81/425) of all IPGs done at our institution were bilaterally abnormal (55% of all abnormal IPGs). Acute proximal DVT was found in 26% (14/53) of patients with bilaterally abnormal IPGs who underwent further diagnostic testing. Thirty-five percent of the patients with DVT were found to have either bilateral lower extremity DVT or clots in the inferior vena cava. A numerical score, the venous function index (VFI), was computed for the 101 legs for which further definitive diagnostic evaluations for DVT had been completed. The mean VFI of seven for legs with acute proximal DVT was significantly less than the mean VFI of 13 for legs with no DVT. Fifty percent of legs with a VFI less than or equal to five had DVT, whereas only 7% of legs with a VFI greater than 15 had DVT. The bilaterally abnormal IPG is a common clinical occurrence, is frequently associated with acute DVT, and the VFI is helpful in discriminating legs with acute proximal DVT from normal legs in patients with a bilaterally abnormal IPG.

(Arch Intern Med 1987;147:125-129)