Deep Venous Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism in Cardiac Surgical Patients

Ann Thorac Surg. 2020 Jun;109(6):1804-1810. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2019.09.055. Epub 2019 Nov 7.


Background: Deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism are life-threatening complications after surgery, warranting prophylaxis. However prophylaxis is not uniformly practiced among cardiac surgical patients. This study aimed to characterize the national incidence, mortality, and costs associated with thromboembolism after cardiac surgery.

Methods: The 2005 to 2015 National Inpatient Sample was used to identify all adult patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting or valve surgery. International Classification of Disease codes were used to identify patients with deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

Results: Of approximately 3 million patients undergoing cardiac surgery, 1.62% developed deep venous thrombosis and 0.38% pulmonary embolism. Those with deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism were more commonly women (33.2% and 36.2 vs 31.2%, P < .001), older (68.1 and 66.0% vs 65.7 years, P < .001), and had a higher Elixhauser comorbidity index (4.0 and 4.7 vs 3.7, P < .001). Deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism were associated with increased mortality (4.95% and 14.8% vs 2.67%, P < .001). After adjustment for baseline differences, deep venous thrombosis was associated with an incremental increase in cost of $12,308, whereas pulmonary embolism was associated with $13,879 cost increase after cardiac surgery. Pulmonary embolism was an independent predictor of mortality (adjusted odds ratio, 3.39; 95% confidence interval, 2.74-4.18).

Conclusions: The mortality and financial burden related to thromboembolism in cardiac surgery are significant. Prophylaxis may be indicated in cardiac surgery patients to improve quality of care and reduce healthcare costs. Future controlled randomized trials investigating the benefit of thromboembolism prophylaxis in cardiac surgery are warranted.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Prognosis
  • Pulmonary Embolism / epidemiology*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Venous Thrombosis / epidemiology*
  • Venous Thrombosis / etiology