Caprini Scores, Risk Stratification, and Rivaroxaban in Plastic Surgery: Time to Reconsider Our Strategy

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Limited data are available regarding the pathophysiology of venous thromboembolism in plastic surgery patients. In an effort to identify patients at greater risk, some investigators promote individual risk assessment using Caprini scores. However, these scores do not correlate with relative risk values. Affected patients cannot be reliably predicted (97% false positive rate). Caprini scores make many body contouring patients candidates for chemoprophylaxis, an intervention that introduces risks related to anticoagulation. Caprini has financial conflicts with several companies that manufacture products such as enoxaparin, commonly used for chemoprophylaxis. Rivaroxaban, taken orally, has been used by some plastic surgeons as an alternative to enoxaparin injections. However, this medication is not United States Food and Drug Administration approved for venous thromboembolism prophylaxis in plastic surgery patients, and a reversal agent is unavailable. This article challenges the prevailing wisdom regarding individual risk stratification and chemoprophylaxis. Alternative methods to reduce risk for all patients include safer anesthesia methods and Doppler ultrasound surveillance. Clinical findings alone are unreliable in diagnosing deep venous thromboses. Only by using a reliable diagnostic tool such as Doppler ultrasound are we able to learn more about the natural history of this problem in our patients. Such knowledge is likely to better inform our treatment recommendations.

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