Is Early Venous Thromboembolism Prophylaxis Safe in Trauma Patients With Intracranial Hemorrhage

Department of Surgery, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37212, USA.
The Journal of trauma (Impact Factor: 2.96). 02/2011; 70(2):324-9. DOI: 10.1097/TA.0b013e31820b5d22
Source: PubMed


Patients with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are at high risk for venous thromboembolic sequelae; however, prophylaxis is often delayed because of the perceived risk of intracranial hemorrhagic exacerbation. The goal of this study was to determine whether enoxaparin for early venous thromboembolism (VTE) prophylaxis is safe for hemodynamically stable patients with TBIs.
This is a retrospective cohort study from a Level I Trauma Center of patients with TBIs receiving early (0-72 hours) or late (>72 hours) VTE prophylaxis. Inclusion criteria included evidence of acute intracranial hemorrhagic injury (IHI) on admission computed tomography, head/neck abbreviated injury score≥3, age≥16 years, and hospital length of stay≥72 hours. Exclusion criteria included intracranial pressure monitor/ventriculostomy, current systemic anticoagulation, pregnancy, coagulopathy, history of DVT, ongoing intra-abdominal hemorrhage 24 hours postadmission, and preexisting inferior vena cava filter. Progression of IHI defined as lesion expansion/new IHI on repeat computed tomography.
Totally, 669 patients were identified: 268 early (40.1%) and 401 late (59.9%), with a mean injury severity score of 27.8±10.2 and 29.4±11, respectively. Head neck abbreviated injury score of 3 (47% vs. 34%), 4 (42% vs. 46%), 5 (11% vs. 19%), and 6 (0% vs. 1%) were reported for the early and late treatment groups, respectively. Mean time to prophylaxis was 2.77 days±0.49 days and 5.31 days±1.97 days. IHI progression before prophylaxis was 9.38% versus 17.41% (p<0.001) and after prophylaxis was 1.46% versus 1.54% (p>0.9). Proportions of proximal DVT were 1.5% versus 3.5% (p=0.117) and pulmonary embolism were 1.5% versus 2.2% (p=0.49). There were no differences in injury severity score, age, and pelvic and/or long bone fractures.
We found no evidence that early VTE prophylaxis increases the rate of IHI progression in hemodynamically stable patients with TBIs. The natural rate of IHI progression observed is comparable with previous studies. Although not powered to detect differences in the incidence of DVT and pulmonary embolism, the data trend toward increased proportions of both VTE outcomes in the late group.

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    • "They further showed a nonsignificant trend toward a reduced rate of brain injury progression in those receiving VTE prophylaxis. Other large series have also suggested that progression of brain injury occurs at similar rates (1-4% per day) regardless of the presence or absence of chemical prophylaxis.[1314] The current study is congruous with these results and suggests that earlier initiation of heparin prophylaxis is associated with more rapid improvement of radiological signs of brain injury in the first week after injury. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Venous thromboembolic prophylaxis (VTEp) is often delayed following traumatic brain injury (TBI), yet animal data suggest that it may reduce cerebral inflammation and improve cognitive recovery. We hypothesized that earlier VTEp initiation in severe TBI patients would result in more rapid neurologic recovery and reduced progression of brain injury on radiologic imaging. Study Design: Medical charts of severe TBI patients admitted to a level 1 trauma center in 2009-2010 were queried for admission Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), head Abbreviated Injury Scale, Injury Severity Score (ISS), osmotherapy use, emergency neurosurgery, and delay to VTEp initiation. Progression (+1 = better, 0 = no change, −1 = worse) of brain injury on head CTs and neurologic exam (by bedside MD, nurse) was collected from patient charts. Head CT scan Marshall scores were calculated from the initial head CT results. Results: A total of 22, 34, and 19 patients received VTEp at early (<3 days), intermediate (3-5 days), and late (>5 days) time intervals, respectively. Clinical and radiologic brain injury characteristics on admission were similar among the three groups (P > 0.05), but ISS was greatest in the early group (P < 0.05). Initial head CT Marshall scores were similar in early and late groups. The slowest progression of brain injury on repeated head CT scans was in the early VTEp group up to 10 days after admission. Conclusion: Early initiation of prophylactic heparin in severe TBI is not associated with deterioration neurologic exam and may result in less progression of injury on brain imaging. Possible neuroprotective effects of heparin in humans need further investigation.
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    • "In 2011, Koehler and associates reported on their experience with 669 TBI patients in whom enoxaparin was used (Koehler et al., 2011). After defining early and late anticoagulation as before or after 72 h after injury, the authors reported no significant reductions in symptomatic VTE complications between the arms, and no differences in symptomatic hemorrhage expansion. "
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    ABSTRACT: Despite the frequency and morbidity of venous thromboembolism (VTE) development after traumatic brain injury (TBI), no national standard of care exists to guide TBI caregivers for the use of prophylactic anticoagulation. Fears of iatrogenic propagation of intracranial hemorrhage patterns have led to a dearth of research in this field, and it is only relatively recently that studies dedicated to this question have been performed. These have generally been limited to retrospective and/or observational studies in which patients are classified in a binary fashion as having the presence or absence of intracranial blood. This methodology does not account for the fact that smaller injury patterns stabilize more rapidly, and thus may be able to safely tolerate earlier initiation of prophylactic anticoagulation than larger injury patterns. This review seeks to critically assess the literature on this question by examining the existing evidence on the safety and efficacy of pharmacologic VTE prophylaxis in the setting of elective craniotomy (as this is the closest model available from which to extrapolate) and after TBI. In doing so, we critique studies that approach TBI as a homogenous or a heterogenous study population. Finally, we propose our own theoretical protocol which stratifies patients into low, moderate, and high risk for the likelihood of natural progression of their hemorrhage pattern, and which allows one to tailor a unique VTE prophylaxis regimen to each individual arm.
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