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, 101 (2), 489-94

Venous Thromboembolism Prophylaxis For Esophagectomy: A Survey of Practice Patterns Among Thoracic Surgeons


Venous Thromboembolism Prophylaxis For Esophagectomy: A Survey of Practice Patterns Among Thoracic Surgeons

Brittany A Zwischenberger et al. Ann Thorac Surg.


Background: Current guidelines for gastrointestinal cancer surgical intervention in high-risk patients recommend postoperative venous thromboembolism (VTE) chemical prophylaxis for 4 weeks with low-dose unfractionated heparin or low-molecular-weight heparin, but specific guidelines for esophagectomy are lacking. This survey identified the clinical patterns affecting postesophagectomy VTE chemoprophylaxis use among general thoracic surgeons.

Methods: General Thoracic Surgery Club members were invited to complete an online survey on VTE prophylaxis to analyze clinical factors affecting their choices.

Results: Seventy-seven surgeons (37% membership) responded; of these, 94% (72 of 77) completed fellowships, and 76% (58 of 77) worked at universities. VTE chemoprophylaxis administration varied widely in drug, dosing, and duration, with 30% using suboptimal dosing of unfractionated heparin (every 12 hours). Participants agreed that esophagectomy patients are at high VTE risk, yet 29% (22 of 76) of surgeons delay VTE chemoprophylaxis until postoperative day 1. Only 13% (10 of 77) prescribe postdischarge chemoprophylaxis. Minimally invasive surgeons (>90% of cases) were more likely to prescribe postdischarge prophylaxis (p = 0.007). Epidurals, routinely used by 65% (51 of 78), led to less compliance with recommended dosing. Only 53% (27 of 51) of pain teams allow unfractionated heparin every 8 hours, yet 73% (37 of 51) allow suboptimal dosing (every 12 h). Postoperative major complications were identified as a VTE risk factor by only 21% (15 of 72) of surgeons. Most (92% [68 of 74]) would follow esophagectomy-specific guidelines, if developed.

Conclusions: Thoracic surgeons agree that VTE chemoprophylaxis is necessary for esophagectomy, yet substantial variability exists in current practice. A noteworthy proportion use suboptimal dosing, and very few choose postdischarge prophylaxis. To improve postesophagectomy morbidity and mortality outcomes, thoracic surgeons are willing to follow evidence-based guidelines for VTE chemoprophylaxis.

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