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J Vasc Surg. 2004 May;39(5):977-84.

Can low molecular weight heparin replace unfractionated heparin during peripheral arterial reconstruction? An open label prospective randomized controlled trial.

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University Hospital, Department of Surgery, Orebro S-70185, Sweden.



This study was undertaken to evaluate the effect of low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) compared with unfractionated heparin (UFH) on the rate of occlusion and bleeding during peripheral vascular surgery.


The study was an open label, prospective, randomized trial, carried out by 20 Swedish surgical and vascular surgical departments that report to the Swedish Vascular Registry (SWEDVASC). Study subjects included patients undergoing peripheral vascular procedures, except carotid surgery. Of the 849 patients included, 817 were followed up to 30 days. LMWH (40 mg of enoxaparin) or UFH (5000 IU heparin) was given intravenously immediately before clamping. The same formulation in diluted form was used for vascular rinsing. Main outcome measures included patent reconstruction at day 1, perioperative blood loss, and the percentage of patients requiring protamin. Further, 30-day data for mortality, repeat operation, and recurrent occlusion are reported.


The mortality rate at 30 days was 2.7%, with no difference between groups. The patency rate at 1 day was 91.2% to 98.4%, depending on diagnosis and type of reconstruction. No difference was recorded between study groups (0.6 < P < 1.0). At 30 days the patency rate was 83.1% to 100% (0.2 < P <.9). Median blood loss was 350 mL (interquartile range [IQR], 200-800 mL) in the LMWH group and 425 mL (IQR, 200-900 mL) in the UFH group (P =.02). Protamin was given to significantly fewer patients in the LMWH group (P =.001). LMWH was comparable to UFH during peripheral vascular reconstruction in terms of 1-day and 30-day graft patency, operative blood loss, and hemorrhagic complications. Protamine was required less often after LMWH. In this randomized trial LMWH was as effective as UFH in preventing thrombosis without excess bleeding or hemorrhagic complications.

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