Incidence of ipsilateral postoperative deep venous thrombosis in the amputated lower extremity of patients with peripheral obstructive arterial disease

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Patients undergoing amputation of the lower limb due to peripheral arterial disease (PAD) are at risk of developing deep venous thrombosis (DVT). Few studies in the research literature report the incidence of DVT during the early postoperative period or the risk factors for the development of DVT in the amputation stump. This prospective study evaluated the incidence of DVT during the first 35 postoperative days in patients who had undergone amputation of the lower extremity due to PAD and its relation to comorbidities and death.


Between September 2004 and March 2006, 56 patients (29 men), with a mean age of 67.25 years, underwent 62 amputations, comprising 36 below knee amputations (BKA) and 26 above knee amputations (AKA). Echo-Doppler scanning was performed preoperatively and on postoperative days 7 and 31 (approximately). All patients received acetylsalicylic acid (100 mg daily) preoperatively and postoperatively, but none received prophylactic anticoagulation.


DVT occurred in 25.8% of extremities with amputations (10 AKA and 6 BKA). The cumulative incidence in the 35-day postoperative period was 28% (Kaplan-Meier). There was a significant difference (P= .04) in the incidence of DVT between AKA (37.5%) and BKA (21.2%). Age ≥70 years (48.9% vs 16.8%,P= .021) was also a risk factor for DVT in the univariate analysis. Of the 16 cases, 14 (87.5%) were diagnosed during outpatient care. The time to discharge after amputation was averaged 6.11 days in-hospital stay (range, 1-56 days). One symptomatic nonfatal pulmonary embolism occurred in a patient already diagnosed with DVT. There was no relation between other comorbidities and DVT. The multivariate analysis showed no association between risk factors and the occurrence of DVT in the amputated extremity. DVT ipsilateral to the amputation did not influence the mortality rate (9.7%).


The incidence of DVT in the early postoperative period (≤35 days) was elevated principally in patients aged ≥70 years and for AKA. Patients with PAD who have recently undergone major amputations should be considered at high risk for DVT, even after hospital discharge. Given the high rate of postoperative DVT observed in this study, we now recommend prophylactic anticoagulation for these patients, but further study is needed to determine the optimal duration and efficacy of this treatment.

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