Background: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) has been considered to be a rare surgical complication in Japan.
Aim: To investigate the incidence and risk factors of VTE in Japanese patients undergoing major abdominal surgery.
Methods: A prospective, multi-center epidemiological study was conducted from December, 2001 to August 2002 in 39 medical institutes throughout Japan. A total of 173 patients with general (n = 128), gynecologic (n = 23), and urologic (n = 22) surgery were analyzed. For the diagnosis of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), bilateral venography was performed in all patients. Lung ventilation/perfusion scintigraphy was carried out in patients suspected of pulmonary thromboembolism (PTE).
Results: There were 36 patients with distal DVT (20.8%) and five patients with proximal DVT (2.9%). One patient was diagnosed as PTE. Overall, VTE was diagnosed in 42 patients (24.3%). By univariate analysis, only age (60 years or older) was identified as a significant risk factor in the whole study population. When analyzed by the stepwise multiple logistic regression model, female gender, operation site, age, and operation time were four risk factors found to be significant. The incidence of VTE was closely related to the number of risk factors that patients had. As many as 44% of patients with three or four risk factors developed VTE while those with one or two risk factors showed about a 17% incidence of VTE. Four patients lacking any risk factors did not develop VTE.
Conclusions: Venous thromboembolism is common in Japanese patients undergoing major abdominal surgery. Pharmacologic thromboprophylaxis is considered essential, particularly in those patients with multiple, potential risk factors.