Prophylaxis against venous thromboembolism in orthopedic surgery

Lin-tao Liu, Bao-tong Ma
Chinese Journal of Traumatology 2006, 9 (4): 249-56
Venous thromboembolism (VTE), which is manifested as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE), represents a significant cause of death, disability, and discomfort. They are frequent complications of various surgical procedures. The aging population and the survival of more severely injured patients may suggest an increasing risk of thromboembolism in the trauma patients. Expanded understanding of the population at risk challenges physicians to carefully examine risk factors for VTE to identify high-risk patients who can benefit from prophylaxis. An accurate knowledge of evidence-based risk factors is important in predicting and preventing postoperative DVT, and can be incorporated into a decision support system for appropriate thromboprophylaxis use. Standard use of DVT prophylaxis in a high-risk trauma population leads to a low incidence of DVT. The incidence of VTE is common in Asia. The evaluation includes laboratory tests, Doppler test and phlebography. Screening Doppler sonography should be performed for surveillance on all critically injured patients to identify DVT. D-Dimer is a useful marker to monitor prophylaxis in trauma surgery patients. The optimal time to start prophylaxis is between 2 hours before and 10 hours after surgery, but the risk of PE continues for several weeks. Thromboprophylaxis includes graduated compression stockings and anticoagulants for prophylaxis. Anticoagulants include Warfarin, which belongs to Vitamin K antagonists, unfractionated heparin, low molecular weight heparins, factor Xa indirect inhibitor Fondaparinux, and the oral IIa inhibitor Melagatran and ximelagatran. Recombinant human soluble thrombomodulin is a new and highly effective antithrombotic agent. Prophylactic placement of vena caval filters in selected trauma patients may decrease the incidence of PE. The indications for prophylactic inferior vena cava filter insertion include prolonged immobilization with multiple injuries, closed head injury, pelvic fracture, spine fracture, multiple long bone fracture, and attending discretion. Multiple-trauma patients are at increased risk for DVT but are also at increased risk of bleeding, and the use of heparin may be contraindicated. Serial compression devices (SCDs) are an alternative for DVT prophylaxis. Compression devices provide adequate DVT prophylaxis with a low failure rate and no device-related complications. Immobilization is one of important reasons of VTE. The ambulant patient is far less likely to develop complications of inactivity, not only venous thrombosis, but also contractures, decubitus ulcers, or osteoporosis (with its associated fatigue fractures), as well as bowel or bladder complications.

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