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In the Literature: Research You Need to Know

From: The eWire, 11.2.2011

Large number of VTE events occur following hospital discharge after cancer surgery

by Dimitriy Levin, MD, Kristin Furfari, MD, Laura Rosenthal, DNP, ACNP, Jennifer Simpson, MD, Nichole Zehnder, MD, Hospital Medicine Group, University of Colorado Denver

Clinical question: When do venous thromboembolism (VTE) events occur after cancer surgery?

Background: Cancer is a known risk factor for VTE. Prophylaxis for VTE after cancer surgery is commonly stopped at the time of hospital discharge despite evidence for extended-duration treatment.

Study design: Retrospective cohort.

Setting: Patients reported to the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) database.

Synopsis: The authors examined the records of 46,656 patients who underwent surgery for one of nine specified cancers. Overall VTE rate was 1.6% (1.0% deep venous thrombosis and 0.6% pulmonary embolism), with 33.4% of VTE events occurring after hospital discharge. VTE risk was highest after esophagogastric and hepatopancreaticobiliary surgery, followed by lung, rectum, ovary/uterus, colon, and prostate. Breast and thyroid/parathyroid surgeries had the lowest incidence of VTE. VTE was associated with increased 30-day mortality. Use of VTE prophylaxis during or after hospitalization was not recorded.

Bottom line: Elevated VTE risk persists following hospital discharge after cancer surgery and consideration should be given to extended-duration thromboprophylaxis. Optimal duration of prophylaxis and its risks and benefits remain poorly defined.

Citation: Merkow RP, Bilimoria KY, McCarter MD, et al. Post-discharge venous thromboembolism after cancer surgery: extending the case for extended prophylaxis. Ann Surg. 2011;254:131-137.

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