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Last Updated:  Monday, 17 March, 2003, 00:12 GMT
Hope for better DVT detection
Plane seats
DVT can be caused by periods of inactivity
Australian scientists hope deadly deep vein thrombosis (DVT) could soon become a thing of the past with a new blood clot spotting test.

Dr David Mcfarlane, from the Royal Brisbane Hospital, said the medical world was desperately in need of the new technology to spot the condition, which has also been dubbed economy class syndrome.

"Tragically, 50% of blood clots in the Western World are detected once a person has died. Current detection methods are clearly inadequate," he said.

On Monday he will be launching a human trial into a new and improved test to diagnose the clots earlier and more accurately.


Deep vein thrombosis, commonly referred to as DVT, is a disease of the circulation. It occurs most often in people who have not been able to exercise normally, such as those who have had operations.

There have also been a number of court cases from air travel passengers who claim cramped conditions on planes caused their DVT's.

Biotechnology company Agenix Limited has developed the diagnostic imaging technology, called "ThromboView".

Patients with suspected clots have a few millilitres of "ThromboView" injected into their body.

It will then flow through the body and attach itself to any blood clots, ensuring that they are easily picked up by an imaging camera.

Ultrasound tests for DVTs

Don Home, managing director of Agenix, said the new technology had massive potential.

"We know around 100,000 people die from blood clots in the United States each year, which makes this a more common death than breast cancer.

"A similar number each year die from blood clots in Europe.


"Additionally, two million people in both Europe and the USA suffer deep vein thrombosis each year.

"Thromboembolism is the third most common cause of cardiovascular death after heart attack and stroke."

"ThromboView" will only be used in hospitals on patients suspected of blood clots.

Vascular surgeon and DVT expert John Scurr told the BBC that this was just another way of picking up clots.

He said that ultrasound imaging was already an effective method of detecting clots and that it had the benefit of not being an invasive test.

"Ultrasound is so good it can pick up big clots and small clots and is a very good technique, but it is observer dependant and you need to have a good operator."

But he said they would be watching the results of the Australian trial to see how effective the new device is.

"It is an interesting idea, but it is too early to get excited."

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