WITHIN the past few decades fundamental research and clinical investigation have made available to the surgeon the necessary armamentarium with which to lessen the disability and often prevent the death of victims of traumatic shock, massive hemorrhage, or even rapidly spreading bacterial infection. Supportive treatment with whole blood, blood plasma, blood substitutes, and solutions of electrolytes, together with the judicious use of the proper antibiotic or chemotherapeutic agents, have reduced the mortality of even the most extensive surgical operations to a relatively low figure. Supportive measures have likewise enabled the extensively injured or the chronically ill patients to live longer and thus become ideal candidates for another of the great surgical scourges—namely, venous thrombosis and its dreaded consequence, pulmonary embolism.
For many decades venous thrombosis has been recognized as a common and often serious complication of chronic heart disease, debilitating illnesses, trauma, childbirth, and surgical operations. Recent surveys have shown