Practice patterns in high-risk bariatric venous thromboembolism prophylaxis

Howard I Pryor, Adam Singleton, Elissa Lin, Paul Lin, Khashayar Vaziri
Surgical Endoscopy 2013, 27 (3): 843-8

BACKGROUND: In the morbidly obese population that undergoes bariatric surgery, venous thromboembolism (VTE) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Certain factors place a patient at higher risk for VTE. No consensus exists on VTE screening or prophylaxis for the high-risk patient. This report describes the results of a survey on VTE screening and prophylaxis patterns in high-risk bariatric surgery.

METHODS: Members of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) were queried on factors that identified bariatric patients as high risk for VTE and on routine screening and prophylaxis practices. This included mechanical and chemical prophylaxis, duration of therapy, and use of inferior vena cava (IVC) filters.

RESULTS: Of the 385 surgeons who responded to the survey, 81 % were bariatric surgeons, and the majority managed more than 50 cases annually. One or more of the following risk factors qualified patients as high risk: history of VTE, hypercoagulable status, body mass index (BMI) exceeding 55 kg/m(2), partial pressure of arterial oxygen (PaO(2)) lower than 60 mmHg, and severe immobility. Preoperative screening of patients for VTE was practiced routinely by 56 % of the surgeons, and 92.4 % used preoperative chemoprophylaxis. The most common agent used preoperatively was heparin (48 %), and Lovenox was most commonly used postoperatively (49 %). Whereas 48 % of the patients discontinued chemoprophylaxis at discharge, 43 % continued chemoprophylaxis as outpatients, and 47 % routinely screened for VTE postoperatively. Use of IVC filters was routine for 28 % of the patients, who most commonly removed them after 1-3 months.

CONCLUSIONS: This study describes current practice patterns of VTE screening and prophylaxis in high-risk bariatric surgery. Nearly all surgeons agree on risk factors that qualify patients as high risk, but only half routinely screen patients preoperatively. Preoperative VTE chemoprophylaxis is used by nearly all surgeons, but the duration of therapy varies. Use of IVC filters is not routine, and postoperative screening was performed by less than half of the respondents. An understanding of current practice patterns yields insight into the rates of VTE and shows variability in the need for evidence-based prophylaxis and standardized screening.

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