Diagnostic performance of lower extremity Doppler ultrasound in detecting iliocaval obstruction

James Z. Hui, Roger E. Goldman, Tarub S. Mabud, Victoria A. Arendt, William T. Kuo, Lawrence V. Hofmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: To retrospectively evaluate the performance of two commonly used Doppler ultrasound parameters, namely, venous flow phasicity and response to Valsalva maneuver, in detecting iliocaval obstruction. Methods: All imaging studies of patients seen by interventional radiology for lower extremity venous disease at a single institution from 1996 to 2018 were retrospectively identified. Lower extremity ultrasounds with a concurrent magnetic resonance, computed tomography, or conventional venogram performed within the next 7 days, which served as gold standard, were further identified (n = 192 examinations, including 313 limbs). Iliocaval obstruction were assessed by two ultrasound criteria: (1) nonphasic flow and/or (2) nonresponsive flow to Valsalva in the common femoral vein. The sensitivity, specificity, negative predictive value (NPV) and positive predictive value (PPV) for diagnosing iliocaval obstruction were calculated for each ultrasound criterion, and also for when the two criteria were assessed jointly. Results: Of the 313 limbs assessed for venous flow phasicity, 133 (42.5%) had an iliocaval obstruction confirmed on subsequent venography. Nonphasic flow demonstrated a sensitivity of 69.2%, specificity of 82.8%, NPV of 78.4%, and PPV of 74.8% for diagnosing iliocaval obstruction. Of the 212 limbs assessed for Valsalva response, 88 (41.5%) had a confirmed iliocaval obstruction. Nonresponsive flow to Valsalva demonstrated a sensitivity of 13.6%, specificity of 97.6%, NPV of 61.6%, and PPV of 80.0% for diagnosing iliocaval obstruction. Joint assessment using phasicity and Valsalva criteria demonstrated a sensitivity of 68.2%, specificity of 87.2%, NPV of 79.6%, and PPV of 78.9%. Conclusions: In this tertiary care setting, Doppler ultrasound examination was not a reliable diagnostic tool for detecting iliocaval obstruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)821-830
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery: Venous and Lymphatic Disorders
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Doppler
  • DVT
  • Iliocaval obstruction
  • Interventional radiology
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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