Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) occur in pediatric patients; however, the incidence, associated morbidity, and mortality are unknown. A Canadian registry of DVT and PE in children (ages 1 month to 18 years) was established July 1, 1990 in 15 tertiary- care pediatric centers. One-hundred thirty-seven patients were identified prospectively and are the subject of this report. The incidence of DVT/PE was 5.3/10,000 hospital admissions or 0.07/10,000 children in Canada. Infants under 1 year old and teenagers predominated with equal numbers of both sexes. DVT were located in the upper (n = 50) and lower (n = 79) venous system, or as PE alone (n = 8). Central venous lines (CVLs) were present in approximately 33% of children with DVT (n = 45). Associated conditions were present in 96% of children and 90% of children had two or more associated conditions for DVT. DVT was diagnosed by venography (n = 83), duplex ultrasound (n = 37), and other combinations (n = 17). Twenty-two of the 31 ventilation/perfusion scans performed were interpreted as high-probability scans for PE. Therapy consisted of heparin (n = 115), thrombolysis (n = 15), surgical removal of a CVL or thrombus (n = 22), and oral anticoagulant therapy (n = 103). Significant bleeding complications did not occur. However, three (2.2%) children died as a direct consequence of their thromboembolic disease; DVT reoccurred in 23 children and postphlebitic syndrome (PPS) occurred in 26. In conclusion, DVTs occur in a significant number of hospitalized children with a mortality of 2.2%. Complications are not hemorrhagic, but thrombotic, and characterized by PE, recurrent disease, and PPS. In contrast to adults, the upper venous system is frequently affected because of the use of CVLs. The frequency of DVT/PE justifies controlled trials of primary prophylaxis in high-risk groups, and therapeutic trials to determine optimal treatment.

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