Study Design. A survey on thromboprophylaxis in spinal surgery and trauma was conducted among spine trauma surgeons.
Objective. Neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons from the Spinal Trauma Study Group were surveyed in an attempt to understand current practices in the perioperative administration of thromboprophylaxis in spinal surgery.
Summary of Background Data. Although much research has been invested in the prevention of thromboembolic events following surgical procedures, there have been few investigations specific to spinal surgery, especially in the context of trauma.
Methods. A total of 47 spine surgeons were provided with a 24-question survey pertaining to deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis in spine surgical patients. There was 100% response to the survey, and 46 of the 47 physicians (98%) responded to the case scenarios.
Results. Institutional protocols for deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis existed for 42 (89%) of the respondents; however, only 27 (57%) indicated that these protocols included spinal cord injury (SCI) patients. Before surgery, no prophylaxis or mechanical prophylactic measures for SCI and non-SCI spinal fracture patients were routinely used by 36 (77%) and 40 (85%) respondents, respectively. After surgery, pharmacologic prophylaxis was prescribed by 42 (91%) and 28 (62%) surgeons for SCI and non-SCI spinal fracture patients, respectively. There was a statistically significant tendency to use more intensive prophylactic measures for patients with SCI (x2, 10.86; P < 0.01) as well as a statistically significant longer duration of proposed thromboprophylaxis (x2, 24.62; P < 0.001). Postoperative pharmacologic thromboprophylaxis for elective anterior thoracolumbar spine surgery was reported by 23 (51%) of the respondents, whereas only 18 (40%) used pharmacological prophylaxis in elective posterior thoracolumbar spine cases. Spine complications from low-molecular weight heparin were reported by 22 (47%) surgeons, including fatal pulmonary embolism by 19 (40%) surgeons.
Conclusion. A basis for a consensus protocol on thromboprophylaxis in spinal trauma was attempted. No more than mechanical prophylaxis was recommended before surgery for non-SCI patients or after surgery for elective cervical spine cases. Chemical prophylaxis was commonly used after surgery in patients with SCI and in patients with elective anterior thoracolumbar surgery.