Incidence of symptomatic venous thrombo-embolism following shoulder surgery

Konrad S Wronka, Mark Pritchard, Amit Sinha
International Orthopaedics 2014, 38 (7): 1415-8

PURPOSE: This clinical study was performed to establish the incidence of symptomatic deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism after shoulder surgery as the incidence of venous thrombo-embolism complicating shoulder surgery is poorly described in literature.

METHODS: We reviewed retrospectively clinical records of 920 consecutive patients who had any surgical procedure performed on their shoulder in Glan Clwyd Hospital, North Wales and a further 1,421 consecutive patients who had surgery in Morriston and Singleton Hospitals, South Wales. Patients' records were assessed for any admissions due to proven VTE; we investigated for any radiological results suggestive of venous thrombo-embolism and for deaths in the post-operative period.

RESULTS: We analyzed data of 2,341 patients. There was one fatal PE in this group, whereby the patient died within 48 hours following reverse shoulder replacement, and post mortem revealed massive pulmonary embolism. There were a further three cases of symptomatic, non-fatal PE. There were six cases of symptomatic DVT of lower limb. All these cases were treated successfully with anticoagulation. No upper limb DVT was identified.

CONCLUSION: Recent studies suggest that DVT prevalence following shoulder arthroplasty is as high as 13 %. In our study we examined occurrence of symptomatic VTE only. According to our results the prevalence of symptomatic DVT following shoulder surgery is 0.26 %, symptomatic PE 0.17 % and combined prevalence of VTE is 0.43 %. We would advise careful thought about the risk of thrombosis and use mechanical prophylaxis in shoulder surgery, especially for longer procedures. We would not recommend routine pharmacological prophylaxis unless there are additional risk factors.

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