Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE)

Phlebitis, or deep vein thrombosis, is a circulation disorder caused by the formation of a blood clot in a deep vein of a limb. Phlebitis can cause a pulmonary embolism.(1)

  • Venous thromboembolic disease (METV) is a common disease: annual incidence in France estimated at 1 to 2 cases per 1000 inhabitants (between 50 and 100,000 phlebitis and 40,000 pulmonary embolisms). (1)(2).
  • The annual incidence of venous thromboembolism increases with age (1).

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

  • Venous thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot (thrombus) within the venous network. It usually occurs in the lower limbs, totally or partially blocking the blood circulation (2).
  • DVT often causes no symptoms, but it must be treated because it can sometimes lead to serious complications, such as pulmonary embolism, which causes 10 to 20,000 deaths each year in France (2).

Pulmonary Embolism (PE)

  • Pulmonary embolism is the obstruction of a pulmonary artery or one of its branches, usually by a blood clot. It causes damage to the affected lung and the injured part can no longer supply oxygen to the body (3).
  • The clot forms during phlebitis or venous thrombosis (usually in the legs). It detaches from the wall of the vein and rises with the blood in the venous circulation to the heart. During its contractions, the right ventricle of the heart propels the clot into the pulmonary arteries. The blood clot travels through thinner and thinner arteries, where it eventually becomes blocked, causing a pulmonary embolism (3).
  • The severity of pulmonary embolism depends on the extent of the part of the lung damaged by the blocked artery and/or the person’s cardiac or respiratory condition prior to the onset of embolism (3).
  • Pulmonary embolism can cause severe hypoxemia (decrease of oxygen in the blood) and affects the right ventricle of the heart (heart failure) (3).

(1) INSERM: Thrombose veineuse (accessed 2022-01-28)
(2) Collège des Enseignants de Pneumologie (2017) (accessed 2022-01-28)
(3) AMELI: Embolie pulmonaire (accessed 2022-01-28)

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