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Incidence and Nature of Lower-Limb Deep Vein Thrombosis in Patients with Polytrauma on Thromboprophylaxis: A Prospective Cohort Study

Abstract: Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is common among the severely injured and may lead to pulmonary embolism (PE), which can be life threatening. Thromboprophylaxis may reduce the incidence of venous thromboembolism (VTE); it does not guarantee complete protection. This study’s primary aim was to determine the incidence and nature of lower-limb DVT in polytrauma patients taking prophylaxis. The secondary objective was to assess the incidence of DVT-related complications, including the development of PE and death. This prospective observational study included patients age 18 years or older who presented with polytrauma directly from the scene and were admitted into the trauma unit between March 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020. All patients underwent lower-limb ultrasound during their hospital course to diagnose DVT. A total of 169 patients underwent extremity Doppler ultrasound to detect DVT. Of these, 69 patients (40.8%) were considered at the highest-risk for VTE development. For VTE prophylaxis, 115 patients (68%) received pharmacologic agents, and 54 patients (32%) had intermittent pneumatic compression on admission. Three patients (1.8%) developed DVT despite prophylaxis. Four patients (2.4%) developed PE during the index presentation and were diagnosed between days 3 and 13 after injury. Early DVT was not detected in any patients with diagnosed PE. Overall, nine patients (5.33%) died, but no in-hospital deaths were related to DVT and/or PE. The incidence of DVT in polytrauma patients remains low in our small series, perhaps because of the mandatory VTE risk assessment for all hospitalized patients and the early initiation of prophylaxis. Using a trauma center registry to measure DVT and PE incidence regularly is recommended to improve trauma care quality.
Keywords: venous thromboembolism / deep vein thrombosis / pulmonary embolism / wounds and injuries / doppler ultrasonography / heparin

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