Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) occur in approximately 17,000 people in the US each year. The average length of hospital stay is 11 days, and deep venous thrombosis (DVT) rates as high as 65% are reported in these patients. There is no consensus on the appropriate timing of chemical DVT prophylaxis for this critically injured patient cohort. The object of this study was to determine if low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) was safe and effective if given within 24 hours of SCI.
The Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in SCIs study is a prospective observational study conducted by the UCSF Brain and Spinal Injury Center. Protocol at this center includes administration of LMWH within 24 hours of SCI. Data were retrospectively reviewed to determine DVT rate, pulmonary embolism (PE) rate, and hemorrhagic complications.
Forty-nine patients were enrolled in the study. There were 3 DVTs (6.1%), 2 PEs (4.1%), and no hemorrhagic complications. Regression modeling did not find an association between DVT and/or PE and age, American Spinal Injury Association grade, sex, race, or having undergone a neurosurgical procedure.
A standardized protocol in which LMWH is given to patients with SCI within 24 hours of injury is effective in keeping venous thromboembolism at the lower end of the reported range, and is safe, with a zero rate of adverse bleeding events.