The structure and growth of valve-pocket thrombi in femoral veins
The structure of 50 small thrombi in femoral valve pockets and the microscopic contents of 35 apparently empty pockets were studied in an attempt to ascertain the nature of the microscopic nidi from which thrombi form and their manner of growth to visible thrombi. Sixteen thrombi had little or no cellular invasion. Most of these recent structures had two main regions, red areas restricted distally in the pocket by the vein wall, and larger white regions comprising most of the thrombus length and often covering the red areas. Red areas are the early sites of cellular adhesion and invasion and the likely sites of origin of most thrombi. They were usually dominated by red cells and fibrin. White zones, which represent propagation growth, are characterized by many foci of platelets with fibrin borders (platelet-fibrin units). Some red areas also contained platelet-fibrin units but they were few and tiny; platelets were not seen in others and one small wholly red thrombus was devoid of platelets. Degenerative changes in platelet-fibrin units were observed, and it is postulated that many become purely fibrin structures. There was no significant evidence of preceding intimal damage in the vein wall. Therefore nidi are laid down on normal endothelium probably on the vein wall near the apex of the pocket. Some pockets, empty of thrombi, contained condensed foci of red cells or tiny fibrin fragments surfaced by endothelial cells and considered to be the remnants of aborted thrombi; a few contained clumps of platelets or leucocytes. It is postulated that any of these may represent the nidi from which thrombi grow. Several thrombi also incorporated large fat droplets, numerous in two. Fat embolic globules derived from fractures are their likely source.