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Am Surg. 1998 Jun;64(6):522-5; discussion 525-6.

Comparison of sequential compression devices and foot pumps for prophylaxis of deep venous thrombosis in high-risk trauma patients.

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Department of Surgery, University of Louisville, Kentucky 40292, USA.


Multiple-trauma patients are at increased risk for deep venous thrombosis (DVT) but are also at increased risk of bleeding, and the use of heparin may be contraindicated. Sequential pneumatic compression devices (SCDs) are an alternative for DVT prophylaxis. However, lower extremity fracture or soft tissue injury may preclude their use. In these circumstances, foot pumps (FPs) are often substituted, yet little clinical data exist to support their use. We identified 184 consecutive high-risk trauma patients who received DVT prophylaxis with compression devices. We reviewed demographic data, mechanism of injury, Injury Severity Score, injury pattern, and method of prophylaxis. Generally, SCDs were preferred, but FPs were substituted in patients with lower extremity injuries. Occurrences of DVT or pulmonary embolism were also noted. Patients surviving less than 48 hours were excluded. SCDs were used in 118 patients (64%) and FPs in 66 patients (34%). There were no differences in age, Injury Severity Score, or presence of shock on admission. As expected, FP patients were more likely to have lower extremity fractures (65 vs 26%; P < 0.05) and were also more likely to have associated pelvic fracture (59 vs 25%; P < 0.05) and chest injury (61 vs 26%, P < 0.05). There was no difference in the incidence of head injury, although SCD patients had more severe head injuries (Glasgow Coma Score, 7.9 vs 10.5; P < 0.05). The overall incidence of DVT was 5.4 per cent (10 of 184), with no differences between the two groups (SCD 7% vs FP 3%). Three patients had a pulmonary embolism (FP, two; SCD, one), none of which were fatal. Compression devices provide adequate DVT prophylaxis with a low failure rate (3-8%) and no device-related complications. FPs appear to be a reasonable alternative in the high-risk trauma patient when lower extremity fractures precludes use of SCD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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