Most studies demonstrating an increased risk of venous thromboembolism in women on oral contraceptives are based on clinical manifestations of the disease. Because of the fallibility of the clinical diagnosis of suspected leg vein thrombosis, Doppler ultrasonic evaluation (with a 93% accuracy compared to venography) was performed for clinical manifestations in deep vein thrombosis in 54 women taking birth control pills and 75 women of similar age who were not on contraceptives. The clinical diagnosis was confirmed by Doppler in only 16.7% of the women taking contraceptives and 30.7% of women not taking contraceptives (P= 0.052). This study suggests that the clinical diagnosis of leg vein thrombosis is frequently erroneous, particularly in women taking oral contraceptives. Future investigations reporting venous thromboembolism associated with oral contraceptives should be based on diagnoses validated by accurate objective techniques.
Submitted for publication November 16, 1977.
© 1978 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists