Surveillance for jugular venous thrombosis in astronauts

James Pavela, Ashot Sargsyan, Deepak Bedi, Aaron Everson, Jacqueline Charvat, Sara Mason, Benjamin Johansen, Karina Marshall-Goebel, Sarah Mercaldo, Ronak Shah, Stephan Moll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Thrombosis of the left internal jugular vein in an astronaut aboard the International Space Station was recently described, incidentally discovered during a research study of blood flow in neck veins in microgravity. Given this event, and the high incidence of flow abnormalities, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) instituted an occupational surveillance program to evaluate astronauts for venous thrombosis. Methods: Duplex ultrasound of the bilateral internal jugular veins was conducted on all NASA astronauts terrestrially, and at three points during spaceflight. Respiratory maneuvers were performed. Images were analyzed for thrombosis and certain hemodynamic characteristics, including peak velocity and degree of echogenicity. Results: Eleven astronauts were evaluated with matching terrestrial and in-flight ultrasounds. No thrombosis was detected. Compared to terrestrial ultrasound measurements, in-flight peak velocity was reduced and lowest in the left. Six of 11 astronauts had mild–moderate echogenicity in the left internal jugular vein during spaceflight, but none had more than mild echogenicity in the right internal jugular vein. Two astronauts developed retrograde blood flow in the left internal jugular vein. Conclusions: Abnormal flow characteristics in microgravity, most prominent in the left internal jugular vein, may signal an increased risk for thrombus formation in some individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalVascular Medicine
StatePublished - Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • aeronautics
  • deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • duplex ultrasound
  • microgravity
  • venous physiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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