Dalteparin for deep venous thrombosis: a hospital-in-the-home program

S B Ting, R W Ziegenbein, T E Gan, J V Catalano, P Monagle, J Silvers, F E Chambers, S Ng, B P McGrath
Medical Journal of Australia 1998 March 16, 168 (6): 272-6

OBJECTIVE: To assess the efficacy, safety and cost savings of home treatment of lower-limb deep venous thrombosis (DVT).

SETTING: A hospital-in-the-home treatment program.

PATIENTS: One hundred patients with acute lower limb DVT (53 proximal, 47 distal), and no contraindication to home treatment, were entered into the program from March 1995 to February 1997.

INTERVENTION: All patients received dalteparin, 200 units/kg subcutaneously, once daily for a minimum of five days, with commencement of oral anticoagulation (warfarin) on Day 2. Patients with proximal DVT had lung ventilation-perfusion scans performed and were admitted to hospital for at least 24 hours. Patients with distal DVT were discharged directly to home treatment.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Clinical responses and the results of sequential duplex ultrasonography at one week, one month, three months and six months.

RESULTS: There were no major, but six minor, bleeding complications, two of which led to dalteparin being withdrawn. Sixteen patients had lung ventilation-perfusion scans showing a high probability of pulmonary embolism. All were asymptomatic, and follow-up for at least three months showed no symptomatic thromboembolic events. Duplex ultrasonography showed progression of thrombosis in the first week of therapy in 13.2% of distal and 2.7% of proximal thromboses. Thereafter, distal DVT improved at a much greater rate than proximal DVT; after six months complete resolution was seen in 60.7% of distal and 18.5% of proximal thromboses, respectively. Cost saving was $197 per bed-day equivalent compared with inpatient care. At 15 months' follow-up, swelling and/or pain was reported by 49% of patients with distal DVT and 66% of those with proximal DVT.

CONCLUSIONS: Once-daily dalteparin therapy for DVT in a hospital-in-the-home setting was safe, efficacious and cost effective. However, DVT resolution is a slow process, with significant long term morbidity.

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