Background: Patients with traumatic intracranial hemorrhagic injuries (IHIs) are at high risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE). The safety of early anticoagulation for IHI has not been established.
Hypothesis: Enoxaparin can be safely administered to most patients with IHI for VTE prophylaxis.
Setting: Level I trauma center.
Design: Prospective, single-cohort, observational study.
Patients and methods: One hundred fifty (85%) of 177 patients with blunt IHI received enoxaparin beginning approximately 24 hours after hospital admission until discharge. Brain computed tomographic (CT) scans were performed at admission, 24 hours after admission, and at variable intervals thereafter based on clinical course. Patients were excluded for coagulopathy, heparin allergy, expected brain death or discharge within 48 hours, and age younger than 14 years. Complications of enoxaparin prophylaxis were defined as Marshall CT grade progression of IHI, expansion of an existing IHI, or development of a new hemorrhagic lesion on follow-up CT after beginning enoxaparin use.
Results: Thirty-four patients (23%) had CT progression of IHI. Twenty-eight CT scans (19%) worsened before enoxaparin therapy and 6 (4%) worsened after beginning enoxaparin use. No differences between operative patient (2/24, 8%) and nonoperative patient (4/126, 3%) complications were identified (P =.23). Study group mortality was 7% (10/150). All 6 patients who developed progression of IHI after initiation of enoxaparin therapy survived hospitalization. A deep vein thrombosis was identified in 2 (2%) of 106 patients.
Conclusion: Enoxaparin can be safely used for VTE prophylaxis in trauma patients with IHI when started 24 hours after hospital admission or after craniotomy.