Objective: To compare the efficacy and treatment-related complications of low molecular weight heparin and external pneumatic compression in the prevention of venous thromboembolism of postoperative gynecologic oncology patients.
Methods: A total of 211 patients over age 40 years, undergoing a major operative procedure for gynecologic malignancy, were randomized to receive perioperative thromboembolism prophylaxis with either low molecular weight heparin (n = 105) or external pneumatic compression (n = 106). Demographic data and clinical outcome were recorded for each patient. All patients underwent bilateral Doppler ultrasound of the lower extremities on postoperative days 3-5 to evaluate for the presence of occult deep vein thrombosis. A follow-up interview 30 days after surgery sought to detect patients who developed deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism after hospital discharge.
Results: Venous thrombosis was diagnosed in two patients receiving low molecular weight heparin and in one patient receiving external pneumatic compression. The frequency of bleeding complications, measured by the number of required perioperative transfusions, and estimated intraoperative blood loss was similar between the two groups.
Conclusion: Low molecular weight heparin and external pneumatic compression are similarly effective in the postoperative prophylaxis of thromboembolism. The use of low molecular weight heparin is not associated with an increased risk of bleeding complications when compared with external pneumatic compression. We believe that both modalities are reasonable choices for prophylaxis in this high-risk group of patients.