Background: Deep-vein thrombosis following skeletal trauma is an important yet poorly studied issue. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the efficacy of two different strategies for prophylaxis against deep-vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolus following blunt skeletal trauma.
Methods: Two hundred and twenty-four inpatients were enrolled in a prospective, randomized study investigating venous thromboembolic disease following trauma. Two hundred patients completed the study, which compared two different regimens of prophylaxis. The patients in Group A received enoxaparin (30 mg, administered subcutaneously twice a day) starting twenty-four to forty-eight hours after blunt trauma. The patients in Group B were managed with pulsatile foot pumps at the time of admission combined with enoxaparin on a delayed basis. All patients were screened with magnetic resonance venography and ultrasonography before discharge.
Results: There were ninety-seven patients in Group A and 103 patients in Group B. Twenty-two patients (including thirteen in Group A and nine in Group B) had development of deep-vein thrombosis, with two (both in Group A) also having development of pulmonary embolism. The prevalence of deep-vein thrombosis was 11% for the whole series, 13.4% for Group A, and 8.7% for Group B; the difference between Groups A and B was not significant. There were eleven large or occlusive clots (prevalence, 11.3%) in Group A, compared with only three (prevalence, 2.9%) in Group B (p = 0.025). The prevalence of pulmonary embolism was 2.1% in Group A and 0% in Group B. Wound complications occurred in twenty-one patients in Group A, compared with twenty patients in Group B. Patients who had development of deep-vein thrombosis during the inpatient portion of the study required a mean of 7.4 units of blood during hospitalization, compared with 3.9 units of blood for those who did not (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: Our results indicate that early mechanical prophylaxis with foot pumps and the addition of enoxaparin on a delayed basis is a very successful strategy for prophylaxis against venous thromboembolic disease following serious musculoskeletal injury. The prevalence of large or occlusive deep-vein thromboses among patients who had been managed with this protocol was significantly less than that among patients who had been managed with enoxaparin alone.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level I. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
1 Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 509 Medical Education Building, 619 South 19th Street, Birmingham, AL 35294-3295. E-mail address for J.P. Stannard: firstname.lastname@example.org