The term “venous thromboembolism” (VTE) subsumes deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism. The incidence of DVT after craniotomy was reported to be as high as 50%. Even clinically silent DVT may lead to potentially fatal pulmonary embolism. The risk of VTE is correlated with duration of surgery, and it appears likely that it develops during surgery. The present study aimed to evaluate intraoperative use of intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) of the lower extremity for prevention of VTE in patients undergoing craniotomy.
A total of 108 patients undergoing elective craniotomy for intracranial pathology were included in a single-center controlled randomized prospective study. In the control group, conventional compression stockings were worn during surgery. In the treatment group, IPC of the calves was used in addition. The presence of DVT was evaluated by Doppler sonography pre- and postoperatively.
Intraoperative use of IPC led to a significant reduction of VTE (p = 0.029). In logistic regression analysis, the risk of VTE was approximately quartered by the use of IPC. Duration of surgery was confirmed to be correlated with VTE incidence (p < 0.01); every hour of surgery increased the risk by a factor of 1.56.
Intraoperative use of IPC significantly lowers the incidence of potentially fatal VTE in patients undergoing craniotomy. The method is easy to use and carries no additional risks.
■ CLASSIFICATION OF EVIDENCE Type of question: therapeutic; study design: randomized controlled trial; evidence: class I.
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