Background: Patients with blunt solid organ injuries (SOI) are at risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE), and VTE prophylaxis is crucial. However, little is known about the safety of early prophylactic administration of heparin in these patients.
Methods: This is a retrospective study including adult trauma patients with SOI (liver, spleen, kidney) undergoing non-operative management (NOM) from 01/01/2009 to 31/12/2014. Three groups were distinguished: prophylactic heparin (low molecular weight heparin or low-dose unfractionated heparin) ≤72 h after admission ('early heparin group'), >72 h after admission ('late heparin group'), and no heparin ('no heparin group'). Patient and injury characteristics, transfusion requirements, and outcomes (failed NOM, VTE, and mortality) were compared between the three groups.
Results: Overall, 179 patients were included; 44.7% in the 'early heparin group,' 34.6% in the 'late heparin group,' and 20.8% in the 'no heparin group.' In the 'late heparin group,' the ISS was significantly higher than in the 'early' and 'no heparin groups' (median 29.0 vs. 17.0 vs. 19.0; p < 0.001). The overall NOM failure rate was 3.9%. Failed NOM was significantly more frequent in the 'no heparin group' compared to the 'early' and 'late heparin groups' (10.8 vs. 3.2 vs. 1.3%; p = 0.043). In the 'early heparin group' 27.5% patients suffered from a high-grade SOI; none of these patients failed NOM. Mortality did not differ significantly. Although not statistically significant, VTE were more frequent in the 'no heparin group' compared to the 'early' and 'late heparin groups' (10.8 vs. 4.8 vs. 1.3%; p = 0.066).
Conclusion: In patients with SOI, heparin was administered early in a high percentage of patients and was not associated with an increased NOM failure rate or higher in-hospital mortality.