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A Review of Two Heparin Prophylaxes for Trauma

Yu, Hyunmin (David) MSN, ACNPC-AG, RN, CCRN, TCRN

doi: 10.1097/JTN.0000000000000453

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) prophylaxis has a significant impact on mortality and morbidity in trauma patients. This article reviews 9 published studies that investigate and compare low-dose unfractionated heparin (LDUH) with low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) for prophylaxis of VTE in the trauma patient population in terms of efficacy, safety, and cost. There is no difference between LDUH and LMWH for VTE prophylaxis. Four databases were utilized to find 9 relevant studies whose patient population was adult trauma patients: PubMed, CINAHL, EMBASE and Scopus. Two studies found statistically significant differences in deep venous thrombosis, and 3 found differences in pulmonary embolism between LDUH and LMWH. Only 1 study demonstrated a significant difference in bleeding complications between the 2 treatment regimens. Two statedthat using LDUH resulted in remarkable cost savings versus LMWH. The 9 studies all came to different conclusions. Contrary findings may have been affected by population variety, different dosing regimens, various applications of mechanical VTE prophylaxis, and/or different VTE-screening tools. All of the studies had major variances leading to conflicting results, which made this review unable to draw concrete conclusions. Limitations of each study, population variety, and disparity of dosing regimens made it difficult for this review to make recommendations for practice.

Trauma Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Correspondence: Hyunmin (David) Yu, MSN, ACNPC-AG, RN, CCRN, TCRN, Trauma Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, 51 North 39th St, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (

The author declares no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2019 by the Society of Trauma Nurses.