Background: Morbidity and mortality from venous thromboembolism (VTE) remains a significant problem for hospitalized patients. Despite the ample prospective literature defining the prevalence of VTE in hospitalized patient populations, the prevalence of VTE in the thermally injured population remains largely unknown.
Methods: We prospectively studied 148 thermally injured patients with hospital stays of greater than 3 days with lower extremity duplex ultrasonograms obtained at admission and discharge.
Results: Nine patients experienced VTE (6.08%). Eight of the nine deep venous thromboses were proximal. One of the two pulmonary embolisms was fatal. Treatment risk factors that were associated with VTE were the presence of a central venous line (p = 0.020) and transfusion of more than 4 units of packed red blood cells (p = 0.023). These treatment factors were significantly related to each other (p < 0.0001), to body surface area burned, and to intervention.
Conclusion: The prevalence of VTE in burn patients is similar to that of moderate- to high-risk general surgical patients for whom VTE prophylaxis is recommended. VTE prophylaxis of burn patients, especially those requiring central venous lines and more than 4 units of packed red blood cells, should be considered.