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J Neurosurg. 2003 Oct;99(4):680-4.

Incidence of venous thromboembolism in patients undergoing craniotomy and motor mapping for glioma without intraoperative mechanical prophylaxis to the contralateral leg.

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  • 1Department of Neurological Surgery, Brain Tumor Research Center, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, San Francisco, California 94143-0112, USA.



Evidence-based reviews support the use of venous thromboembolism (VTE) prophylaxis in the form of compression devices and/or stockings for patients undergoing craniotomy. In patients undergoing craniotomy with motor mapping for glioma, the contralateral lower extremity should remain visible so that motor responses can be accurately identified. As a consequence, these patients could be placed at a higher risk to develop VTE. The authors have quantified the incidence of VTE in patients undergoing craniotomy with motor mapping and have shown that there is no increased risk of developing a VTE in the contralateral lower extremity when compression devices are not used.


One hundred eighty consecutive cases (1997-2000) of craniotomy with motor mapping for glioma were retrospectively reviewed to determine the incidence and location of VTEs during the early postoperative course. Intraoperative VTE prophylaxis in all patients consisted of ipsilateral (that is, ipsilateral to the hemisphere being mapped) lower-extremity mechanical prophylaxis (antiembolism stocking plus compression device). Postoperatively, all patients received bilateral mechanical prophylaxis. Patients were observed until discharge and received clinical follow up. Venous thromboembolism, classified as deep venous thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE) occurring within 6 weeks postoperatively, was confirmed by Doppler ultrasonography, spiral computerized tomography scanning, or both. The average duration of postoperative hospitalization was 5 days (range 2-59 days). Six patients (3.3%) experienced VTE. Of those, in four (2.2%) the DVT was localized to the contralateral (three patients) or ipsilateral (one patient) lower extremity. Two other patients (1.1%) only had PE. There were no deaths from thromboembolic complications and no statistically significant predisposition to VTE in the contralateral lower extremity among patients not receiving intraoperative prophylaxis.


The incidence of VTE in patients undergoing craniotomy with motor mapping is comparable to that in patients receiving bilateral lower-extremity mechanical VTE prophylaxis. The practice of leaving the contralateral lower extremity free from intraoperative prophylaxis does not appear to place patients at a higher risk for developing VTE. There appears to be no preferential distribution of VTE in contralateral lower extremities that do not receive immediate preoperative and intraoperative mechanical prophylaxis.

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