Virchow’s triad includes three broad categories of factors that are considered to contribute to thrombosis.
The Virchow’s triad consists of:
1. Alterations in normal blood flow
2. Injuries to the vascular endothelium
3. Alterations in the consistancy of blood (hypercoagulability)
Examples of alterations in normal blood flow include: turbulence, stasis, mitral stenosis, and varicose veins.
Examples of injuries to the endothelium include: damage to the veins as a result of hypertension.
Examples of hypercoagulability includes: deficiency of antithrombin III, hyperviscosity, nephrotic syndrome, changes after severe trauma such as disseminated intravascular coagulation, burns, disseminated cancer, late pregnancy and delivery, race, age, and whether or not the patient is a smoker
Virchow’s triad was first formulated by the German physician Rudolf Virchow (1821-1902) in 1856. However, it should be noted that Virchow never actually identified a Triad of thrombosis, but identified early concepts relating to the formation of a thrombus. It was until Virchow had been deceased for many years before modern scientists started to group the three main coagulation signs into a triad, which was later defined as Virchow’s Triad (in recognition of Virchow’s original work related to the topics).
An example of Virchow’s Triad is when a patient develops disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) as a result of major trauma and large amounts of both clotting and fibrin (thining) contents being released.
To learn more about coagulation, please review my Clotting Cascade page.
Want to learn another medical triad? How about Beck’s Triad?