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Crit Care Med. 2003 May;31(5):1405-9.

Prophylactic anticoagulation with enoxaparin: Is the subcutaneous route appropriate in the critically ill?

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  • 1Department of Cardiology, University of Vienna, Austria.



Subcutaneously administered low-molecular-weight heparins are widely used for prevention of venous thromboembolism. The appropriateness of the subcutaneous route in critically ill patients has never been established.


To determine anti-Xa activities in critically ill patients and in noncritically ill patients receiving prophylactic doses of subcutaneous enoxaparin.


Prospective, controlled, open-labeled study.


Tertiary medical-cardiologic-postoperative intensive care unit and a general medical ward at a university hospital.


A total of 16 intensive care unit patients (group 1; age, 61.1 +/- 16 yrs; male/female ratio, 7/9; Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score, 20.9 +/- 7; mechanical ventilation, n = 15; vasopressors, n = 13) and 13 noncritically ill medical patients (group 2; age, 61.7 +/- 9 yrs; male/female ratio, 7/6) were studied. Body mass index (25.7 +/- 5 vs. 24 +/- 6 kg/m2, p = not significant) was comparable and serum creatinine levels (0.83 +/- 0.25 vs. 1.07 +/- 0.3 mg/dL, group 1 vs. 2) were within the normal range in both groups. Patients with impaired renal function, receiving hemofiltration, or requiring therapeutic anticoagulation were not eligible.




Anti-Xa activities were determined at 0, 1, 3, 6, and 12 hrs after a single daily subcutaneous dose of 40 mg enoxaparin on day 1 and at 3 hrs after 40 mg of enoxaparin on days 2-5. Mean anti-Xa levels at 0 to 12 hrs were consistently lower in group 1 compared with group 2 by analysis of variance (p =.001 between groups and over time), as was the area under the curve at 0 to 12 hrs (2.6 +/- 1 vs. 4.2 +/- 1.7 units x mL(-1) x hr(-1), group 1 vs. 2, p =.008). Significant differences in anti-Xa activity were also found on days 2-5 (p =.001). Peak anti-Xa activities at 3 hrs after administration were negatively correlated with the body mass index (r = -.41, p <.03). No correlation was found between the anti-Xa activity at 3 hrs and the dose of norepinephrine (r =.12, p =.7).


Critically ill patients with normal renal function demonstrated significantly lower anti-Xa levels in response to a single daily dose of subcutaneous enoxaparin when compared with medical patients in the normal ward.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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