Prevention and treatment of deep venous thrombosis.
Postoperative venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a common cause of preventable patient morbidity and mortality. Hospitalized patients have multiple risk factors for VTE, which can exert a cumulative effect on the individual patient. Although effective thromboprophylactic measures are currently available, they are not commonly used for a number of reasons, in addition to heightened concern about increasing bleeding risk. Limited data are available characterizing the incidence of symptomatic VTE following major vascular surgery in the absence of thromboprophylactic therapy. Reported rates vary according to the type of surgery, type of prophylaxis used, and diagnostic modalities used for deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). Hospital-acquired DVT in the absence of thromboprophylaxis can occur in up to 40% of patients, occurring primarily in the proximal deep veins, which elevates the risk of PE. Risk factors for VTE in vascular surgery include limb ischemia, prolonged surgery duration, localized intraoperative trauma, and atherosclerosis. Advanced patient age is also a risk factor for VTE; however, the relationship between age and risk of VTE after surgery is complex and dependent on both the type of surgery and the underlying disease process. Evidence-based guidelines for venous thrombo-prophylaxis are now available; however, adoption of and compliance with these guidelines have lagged. Effective thrombo-prophylactic strategies exist and include both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic approaches. For those surgical patients who develop a VTE, antithrombotic therapy remains the treatment of choice.
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