Primary prophylaxis of venous thromboembolism in surgical patients

Anish Rawat, Tam T Huynh, Eric K Peden, Panagiotis Kougias, Peter H Lin
Vascular and Endovascular Surgery 2008, 42 (3): 205-16
Venous thromboembolism is a major risk for surgical patients during the perioperative period. Prevention of perioperative venous thromboembolism remains a critical component of surgical patient care. The risk for venous thromboembolism in surgical patients can be stratified by their risk factors and by the type of operation. Pharmacological prophylaxis for venous thromboembolism includes unfractionated heparin, low-molecular weight heparin, fondaparinux, warfarin, antiplatelet therapy, and direct thrombin inhibitors. Mechanical devices such as graduated compression stockings, intermittent pneumatic compressions, and venous foot pumps are also effective modalities for venous thromboembolism prophylaxis. The optimal preventive measure of venous thromboembolism should be based on the degree of risk for venous thromboembolism with the intensity of prophylaxis while balancing potential treatment benefits and risks in each individual patient. The epidemiology of venous thromboembolism, the methods for achieving venous thromboembolism prophylaxis, and the approach to institute venous thromboembolism prophylaxis in surgical patients undergoing various operative interventions are reviewed in this article.

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