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A comparison of low-dose heparin with low-molecular-weight heparin as prophylaxis against venous thromboembolism after major trauma

W H Geerts, R M Jay, K I Code, E Chen, J P Szalai, E A Saibil, P A Hamilton
New England Journal of Medicine 1996 September 5, 335 (10): 701-7

BACKGROUND: Patients who have had major trauma are at very high risk for venous thromboembolism if they do not receive thromboprophylaxis. We compared low-dose heparin and a low-molecular-weight heparin with regard to efficacy and safety in a randomized clinical trial in patients with trauma.

METHODS: Consecutive adult patients admitted to a trauma center who had Injury Severity Scores of at least 9 and no intracranial bleeding were randomly assigned to heparin (5000 units) or enoxaprin (30 mg), each given subcutaneously every 12 hours in a double-blind manner, beginning within 36 hours after the injury. The primary outcome was deep-vein thrombosis as assessed by contrast venography performed on or before day 14 after randomization.

RESULTS: Among 344 randomized patients, 136 who received low-dose heparin and 129 who received enoxaparin had venograms adequate for analysis. Sixty patients given heparin (44 percent) and 40 patients given enoxaparin (31 percent) had deep-vein thrombosis (P=0.014). The rates of proximal-vein thrombosis were 15 percent and 6 percent, respectively (P=0.012). The reductions in risk with enoxaparin as compared with heparin were 30 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 4 to 50 percent) for all deep-vein thrombosis and 58 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 12 to 87 percent) for proximal-vein thrombosis. Only six patients (1.7 percent) had major bleeding (one in the heparin group and five in the enoxaparin group, P=0.12).

CONCLUSIONS: Low-molecular-weight heparin was more effective than low-dose heparin in preventing venous thromboembolism after major trauma. Both interventions were safe.

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