Prevention of thromboembolism in spinal cord injury -S1 guideline

Norbert Weidner, Oliver J Müller, Viola Hach-Wunderle, Karsten Schwerdtfeger, Rüdiger Krauspe, Rolf Pauschert, Christian Waydhas, Michael Baumberger, Christoph Göggelmann, Gabriela Wittgruber, Renate Wildburger, Oswald Marcus
Neurological research and practice 2020, 2: 43

INTRODUCTION: Traumatic and non-traumatic spinal cord injury bears a high risk for thromboembolism in the first few months after injury. So far, there is no consented guideline regarding diagnostic and prophylactic measures to prevent thromboembolic events in spinal cord injury. Based on a Pubmed research of related original papers and review articles, international guidelines and a survey conducted in German-speaking spinal cord injury centers about best practice prophylactic procedures at each site, a consensus process was initiated, which included spinal cord medicine experts and representatives from medical societies involved in the comprehensive care of spinal cord injury patients. The recommendations comply with the German S3 practice guidelines on prevention of venous thromboembolism.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Specific clinical or instrument-based screening methods are not recommended in asymptomatic SCI patients. Based on the severity of neurological dysfunction (motor completeness, ambulatory function) low dose low molecular weight heparins are recommended to be administered up to 24 weeks after injury. Besides, mechanical methods (compression stockings, intermittent pneumatic compression) can be applied. In chronic SCI patients admitted to the hospital, thromboembolism prophylactic measures need to be based on the reason for admission and the necessity for immobilization.

CONCLUSIONS: Recommendations for thromboembolism diagnostic and prophylactic measures follow best practice in most spinal cord injury centers. More research evidence needs to be generated to administer more individually tailored risk-adapted prophylactic strategies in the future, which may help to further prevent thromboembolic events without causing major side effects. The present article is a translation of the guideline recently published online (

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