Venous Thromboembolism in Neurosurgery and Neurology Patients: A Review

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THROMBOEMBOLISM IS A common problem in neurosurgery and neurology patients. Within this diverse population are subpopulations of patients with varying degrees of thromboembolic risk: low, moderate, and high. Patients at substantial risk for deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism include those with spinal cord injury, brain tumor, subarachnoid hemorrhage, head trauma, stroke, and patients undergoing a neurosurgical operation. There are prophylactic strategies that can be applied to these various risk groups that will dramatically reduce the incidence of thromboembolism. The risk of pulmonary embolism or fatal pulmonary embolism typically exceeds the risk of severe or fatal bleeding from adequate prophylaxis, and these techniques should be applied on a routine basis. To adequately care for patients with deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, the physician requires a thorough understanding of the methods of diagnosis, the pharmacokinetics of heparin and warfarin, and a knowledge of their role in the treatment strategies that have proven efficacy and safety. In addition, an awareness of the low molecular weight heparins and heparinoids is becoming essential. These new agents have a potentially promising role in both the prophylaxis and treatment of patients with neurological disease. The principles concerning the prophylaxis, diagnosis, and clinical management of venous thromboembolic disease in neurosurgery and neurology patients are dealt with in this review.

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