Study Design. Retrospective review.
Objective. To determine the incidence of thromboembolic events, bleeding complications such as epidural hematomas, and wound complications in patients with spinal trauma requiring surgical stabilization.
Summary of Background Data. Literature addressing the safety and efficacy of chemoprophylactic agents in postoperative patients with spinal trauma is sparse. As a result, significant variability exists regarding administration of thromboembolic chemoprophylaxis in this population. The risk of bleeding complications is particularly concerning.
Methods. Patients with spinal trauma who underwent surgical stabilization in 2009 and 2010 at a single level 1 trauma center were retrospectively reviewed. Exclusion criteria included patients who underwent solely decompressive procedures, noninstrumented fusions, kyphoplasty, or had incomplete medical records. Patients who received chemoprophylaxis were compared with patients who did not. Demographical information and injury data were collected. Primary outcome measures were prevalence of thromboembolic events, epidural hematomas, and persistent wound drainage requiring irrigation and debridement.
Results. Two hundred twenty-seven of 373 patients were included (56 in the untreated group, 171 in the treated group). Eight patients in the untreated group (14.3%) and 12 patients in the treated group (7%) developed postoperative thromboembolism (P = 0.096). There was 1 pulmonary embolism in the untreated group (1.8%), and 4 pulmonary embolisms in the treated group (2.3%). Surgical irrigation and debridement for wound drainage was required for 1.8% of patients in the untreated group and for 5.3% of patients in the treated group. No epidural hematomas were noted in either group. The treated group had more spinal levels fused (P = 0.46), higher injury severity scores (0.001), and longer hospitalizations (0.018). Patients who developed postoperative thromboembolism had significantly higher body mass indexes (P = 0.01), injury severity scores (0.001), number of spinal levels fused (P = 0.004), incidence of neurological deficits (0.001), and longer hospitalizations (0.16) compared with those who did not.
Conclusion. The use of chemoprophylaxis appears to be safe in at-risk patients in the immediate postoperative period after spinal trauma surgery. No epidural hematomas occurred, and the risk of wound drainage is small. Body mass index, injury severity score, presence of neurological deﬁcits, and number of spinal levels fused should be considered when determining which patients should receive chemoprophylaxis after surgical stabilization.
Level of Evidence: 3