Early experience with arterial thromboembolic complications in patients with COVID-19

Jeffrey E. Indes, Issam Koleilat, Ayesha Nzeribe Hatch, Krystina Choinski, Davis Brent Jones, Hasan Aldailami, Henny Billett, John M. Denesopolis, Evan Lipsitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background: Little is known about the arterial complications and hypercoagulability associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. We sought to characterize our experience with arterial thromboembolic complications in patients with hospitalized for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Methods: All patients admitted from March 1 to April 20, 2020, and who underwent carotid, upper, lower and aortoiliac arterial duplex, computed tomography angiogram or magnetic resonance angiography for suspected arterial thrombosis were included. A retrospective case control study design was used to identify, characterize and evaluate potential risk factors for arterial thromboembolic disease in SARS-CoV-2 positive patients. Demographics, characteristics, and laboratory values were abstracted and analyzed. Results: During the study period, 424 patients underwent 499 arterial duplex, computed tomography angiogram, or magnetic resonance angiography imaging studies with an overall 9.4% positive rate for arterial thromboembolism. Of the 40 patients with arterial thromboembolism, 25 (62.5%) were SARS-CoV-2 negative or admitted for unrelated reasons and 15 (37.5%) were SARS-CoV-2 positive. The odds ratio for arterial thrombosis in COVID-19 was 3.37 (95% confidence interval, 1.68-6.78; P =.001). Although not statistically significant, in patients with arterial thromboembolism, patients who were SARS-CoV-2 positive compared with those testing negative or not tested tended to be male (66.7% vs 40.0%; P =.191), have a less frequent history of former or active smoking (42.9% vs 68.0%; P =.233) and have a higher white blood cell count (14.5 vs 9.9; P =.208). Although the SARS-CoV-2 positive patients trended toward a higher the neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (8.9 vs 4.1; P =.134), creatinine phosphokinase level (359.0 vs 144.5; P =.667), C-reactive protein level (24.2 vs 13.8; P =.627), lactate dehydrogenase level (576.5 vs 338.0; P =.313), and ferritin level (974.0 vs 412.0; P =.47), these differences did not reach statistical significance. Patients with arterial thromboembolic complications and SARS-CoV-2 positive when compared with SARS-CoV-2 negative or admitted for unrelated reasons were younger (64 vs 70 years; P =.027), had a significantly higher body mass index (32.6 vs 25.5; P =.012), a higher D-dimer at the time of imaging (17.3 vs 1.8; P =.038), a higher average in hospital D-dimer (8.5 vs 2.0; P =.038), a greater distribution of patients with clot in the aortoiliac location (5 vs 1; P =.040), less prior use of any antiplatelet medication (21.4% vs 62.5%; P =.035), and a higher mortality rate (40.0% vs 8.0%; P =.041). Treatment of arterial thromboembolic disease in COVID-19 positive patients included open thromboembolectomy in six patients (40%), anticoagulation alone in four (26.7%), and five (33.3%) did not require or their overall illness severity precluded additional treatment. Conclusions: Patients with SARS-CoV-2 are at risk for acute arterial thromboembolic complications despite a lack of conventional risk factors. A hyperinflammatory state may be responsible for this phenomenon with a preponderance for aortoiliac involvement. These findings provide an early characterization of arterial thromboembolic disease in SARS-CoV-2 patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-389.e1
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Hyperinflammatory
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Thromboembolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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