VTE Incidence and Risk Factors in Patients With Severe Sepsis and Septic Shock

Chest. 2015 Nov;148(5):1224-1230. doi: 10.1378/chest.15-0287.


Background: Prospective studies on the incidence of VTE during severe sepsis and septic shock remain absent, hindering efficacy assessments regarding VTE prevention strategies in sepsis.

Methods: We prospectively studied 113 consecutively enrolled patients in the ICU with severe sepsis and septic shock at three hospitals. All patients provided informed consent. VTE thromboprophylaxis was recorded for all patients. Patients underwent ultrasonography and were followed for VTE prior to ICU discharge. All-cause 28-day mortality was recorded. Variables from univariate analyses that were associated with VTE (including central venous catheter [CVC] insertion, age, length of stay, and mechanical ventilation) were included in a multivariable logistic regression analysis using backward stepwise elimination to determine VTE predictors.

Results: Mean APACHE (Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation) II score was 18.2 ± 7.0, and age was 50 ± 18 years. Despite all patients receiving guideline-recommended thromboprophylaxis, the incidence of VTE was 37.2% (95% CI, 28.3-46.8). Most VTE events were clinically significant (defined as pulmonary embolism, proximal DVT, and/or symptomatic distal DVT) and associated with an increased length of stay (18.2 ± 9.9 days vs 13.4 ± 11.5 days, P < .05). Mortality was higher in patients with acute VTE but did not reach statistical significance. Insertion of a CVC and longer mechanical ventilation duration were significant VTE risk factors. VTE incidence did not differ by thromboprophylaxis type.

Conclusions: To our knowledge this is the first multicenter prospective study to identify a high incidence of VTE in patients with severe sepsis and septic shock, despite the use of universal, guideline-recommended thromboprophylaxis. Our findings suggest that the systemic inflammatory milieu of sepsis may uniquely predispose patients with sepsis to VTE. More effective VTE prevention strategies are necessary in patients with sepsis.

Trial registry: ClinicalTrials.gov; No.: NCT02353910; URL: www.clinicaltrials.gov.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sepsis / complications*
  • Shock, Septic / complications*
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • Utah / epidemiology
  • Venous Thromboembolism / epidemiology*
  • Venous Thromboembolism / etiology

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02353910