Efficacy of mechanical prophylaxis for venous thromboembolism in patients with brain tumors

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Patients with brain tumors are at considerable risk for the formation of venous thromboemboli. One method of preventing these complications is mechanical prophylaxis in which an external pneumatic compression device and graduated elastic compression stockings are used. Evidence indicates that these devices prevent deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) by limiting venous stasis and increasing fibrinolytic activity at both the local and systemic levels. The authors present evidence for the occurrence of both mechanisms and discuss the use of mechanical compression in the setting of surgery for brain tumors. They also present data proving the efficacy of these devices in patients who undergo craniotomy with motor mapping for resection of glioma and in whom the contralateral leg receives no prophylaxis. Finally, they comment on the use of anticoagulation therapy both in addition to and in place of mechanical prophylaxis.

Abbreviations used in this paper:DVT = deep venous thrombosis; PE = pulmonary embolism; tPA = tissue plasminogen activator; VTE = venous thromboembolism.

Patients with brain tumors are at considerable risk for the formation of venous thromboemboli. One method of preventing these complications is mechanical prophylaxis in which an external pneumatic compression device and graduated elastic compression stockings are used. Evidence indicates that these devices prevent deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) by limiting venous stasis and increasing fibrinolytic activity at both the local and systemic levels. The authors present evidence for the occurrence of both mechanisms and discuss the use of mechanical compression in the setting of surgery for brain tumors. They also present data proving the efficacy of these devices in patients who undergo craniotomy with motor mapping for resection of glioma and in whom the contralateral leg receives no prophylaxis. Finally, they comment on the use of anticoagulation therapy both in addition to and in place of mechanical prophylaxis.

Abbreviations used in this paper:DVT = deep venous thrombosis; PE = pulmonary embolism; tPA = tissue plasminogen activator; VTE = venous thromboembolism.

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Address reprint requests to: Kurtis Ian Auguste, M.D., Department of Neurological Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, 505 Parnassus Avenue, M-779, San Francisco, California 94143-0112. email: augustek@neurosurg.ucsf.edu.
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