Effectiveness of clinical guidelines for deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis in reducing the incidence of venous thromboembolism in critically ill children after trauma

J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2012 May;72(5):1292-7. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e31824964d1.


Background: Historically, 6% of critically ill children developed clinically apparent venous thromboembolism (VTE) after trauma at our Level I pediatric trauma center. We hypothesized that implementation of clinical guidelines for thrombosis prophylaxis incorporating both VTE risk and bleeding risk would reduce VTE incidence without increased bleeding.

Methods: VTE, both clinically apparent and those only detected by guideline-directed screening, were prospectively identified for all children admitted to the intensive care unit after trauma during three time periods: preimplementation of guidelines for VTE thromboprophylaxis (PRE; April 1, 2006-June 30, 2007), the intervening period (ROLL OUT; July 1, 2007-November 4, 2008), and postguideline implementation (POST; November 5, 2008-June 1, 2010). For patients classified as high risk for VTE, anticoagulation was recommended. For those patients at high risk of VTE with high risk of bleeding, anticoagulation was deferred and screening ultrasound performed.

Results: Fourteen of 546 subjects developed VTE. There was a decrease in total VTE (p = 0.041) and clinical VTE (p = 0.001) after guideline implementation. The nine VTE PRE (5.2%) were clinically symptomatic, while the three VTE POST (1.8%) were detected by guideline-directed screening ultrasound. Implementation of guidelines did not increase overall thromboprophylaxis, with decreased anticoagulation in patients at low risk of VTE. No bleeding complications occurred. No patients classified by the guidelines as low risk for VTE developed VTE.

Conclusion: The incidence of clinical VTE and total VTE decreased after implementation of clinical guidelines for thromboprophylaxis in critically ill children after trauma. This decrease in VTE was not associated with increased prophylactic anticoagulation nor increased bleeding. The guidelines were predictive in identifying patients at low risk for VTE.

Level of evidence: II, therapeutic study.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Critical Illness / epidemiology
  • Critical Illness / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric
  • Male
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Venous Thrombosis / epidemiology
  • Venous Thrombosis / prevention & control*
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications*
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy
  • Young Adult