Prevention of Venous Thromboembolism After Injury

An Evidence-Based Report

Published in: The Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection and Critical Care, v. 49, No. 1, 2000, p. 140-144

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1999

by George C. Velmahos, Jack Kern, Linda S. Chan, Danila Oder, James A. Murray, Paul G. Shekelle

Objective: In part II, we describe the results of the literature search and data analysis concerning risk factors for venous thromboembolism and the role of vena caval filters (VCF) in preventing pulmonary embolism. Methods: The methodology used in part I was used in part II. Results: Spinal fractures and spinal-cord injuries increase the risk for development of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) by twofold and threefold, respectively. Patients with DVT were an average of 9 years older than patients without DVT. No specific age cut-off point for increased risk could be established because data could not be combined across studies. Patients with prophylactically inserted VCF had a lower incidence of pulmonary embolism (0.2%) compared with concurrently managed patients without VCF (1.5%) or historical controls without VCF (5.8%). These results are reported on uncontrolled studies with observational design. Conclusion: Spinal injuries, spinal cord injuries, and age are risk factors for development of DVT. Prophylactic placement of VCF in selected trauma patients may decrease the incidence of pulmonary embolism. Future research with well-designed studies is required to provide definitive answers.

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