Chemical venous thromboembolic prophylaxis is safe and effective for patients with traumatic brain injury when started 24 hours after the absence of hemorrhage progression on head CT

J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2012 Aug;73(2):426-30. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e31825a758b.


Background: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) continues to be an important complication for patients with trauma, including patients with intracranial hemorrhage. We implemented a protocol starting chemical prophylaxis 24 hours after the absence of progression of hemorrhage on computed tomography (CT) to increase consistency with the use of chemical venous thromboembolic prophylaxis in this population. The objective of this study was to review the protocol of VTE prophylaxis for patients with traumatic brain injury at our institution to determine whether it has been effective and safe in preventing VTE without increasing intracranial hemorrhage.

Methods: A retrospective case series was conducted to study 205 patients with intracranial hemorrhage admitted to a Level I trauma center during a 24-month period. These patients were reviewed with respect to type of intracranial injury, need for surgery, injury severity, time to initiation of chemical prophylaxis, and progression of injury on brain CT. Patients with a hospital length of stay less than 3 days or nonstable CT were excluded in the analysis of administration of chemical prophylaxis. Time to chemical prophylaxis in relation to absence of progression on brain CT was examined as well as the subsequent risk of progression of hemorrhage and risk of VTE events. The overall rate of venous thromboembolism was compared with that of matched historical controls.

Results: All patients received mechanical prophylaxis in the form of sequential compression devices. One hundred sixty-two intracranial hemorrhages were identified in 122 patients who met the study's inclusion criteria. Of this group of patients who did not have progression of hemorrhage on follow-up CT, 76.2% received chemical prophylaxis during their hospitalization.No patients had progression of intracranial hemorrhage after initiation of chemical VTE prophylaxis, and no patients developed VTE. This represents a decrease of VTE from previous years. No other complications related to chemical VTE prophylaxis were identified.

Conclusion: A protocol based on an early use of chemical venous thromboembolic prophylaxis after the absence of progression of tramatic intracranial hemorrhage does not result in increased progression of intracranial hemorrhage and reduced the rate of venous thromboembolic events at our institution.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Brain Injuries / complications
  • Brain Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Injuries / mortality
  • Brain Injuries / therapy
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospital Mortality / trends
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / complications*
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / diagnostic imaging
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / mortality
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Patient Safety
  • Primary Prevention / methods*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Survival Rate
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Venous Thromboembolism / etiology
  • Venous Thromboembolism / mortality*
  • Venous Thromboembolism / prevention & control*
  • Young Adult


  • Anticoagulants