Initial and intermediate-term treatment of the phantom thrombus (primary non-occlusive mural thrombus on normal arteries)

George M. DeKornfeld, Julia Boll, Kenneth R. Ziegler, Jonathan Ratcliff, Thomas C. Naslund, C. Louis Garrard, R. James Valentine, John A. Curci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


An embolic event originating from thrombus on an otherwise un-diseased or minimally diseased proximal artery (Phantom Thrombus) is a rare but significant clinical challenge. All patients from a single center with an imaging defined luminal thrombus with a focal mural attachment site on an artery were evaluated retrospectively. We excluded all patients with underlying anatomic abnormalities of the vessel at the attachment site. Six patients with a mean age of 62.5 years were identified over a 2.5-year period. All patients had completed treatment for or had a current diagnosis of malignancy and none were on antiplatelets or other anticoagulants. Four thrombi originated in the aorta proximal to the renal arteries and one originated distal. One thrombus was found in the common carotid artery and one was in an arterialized vein graft. Mean follow-up was 22 months. None of the patients underwent removal or exclusion of the embolic source. With systemic anticoagulation, four of the phantom thrombi were resolved on imaging within 8 weeks, one resolved after 72 weeks. One phantom thrombus reoccurred after 6 months on reduced anticoagulant dosing. There was one acute and one death in follow-up (26 months). One patient required a partial foot amputation secondary to tissue necrosis from the initial thromboembolic event. Arterial thrombi forming on otherwise normal vessels are a distinct clinical entity. In patients with a phantom thrombus, a strategy of therapeutic anticoagulation for management of the embolic source seems to be safe and effective over both the short and intermediate-term.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-554
Number of pages6
JournalVascular Medicine (United Kingdom)
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • anticoagulation
  • aortic disease
  • embolism
  • phantom thrombus
  • thrombectomy
  • thrombophilia


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