To evaluate the incidence of primary venous thromboembolism (VTE), epidural haematoma, surgical site infection (SSI), and 90-day mortality after elective spinal surgery, and the effect of two protocols for prophylaxis.Patients and Methods
A total of 2181 adults underwent 2366 elective spinal procedures between January 2007 and January 2012. All patients wore anti-embolic stockings, mobilised early and were kept adequately hydrated. In addition, 29% (689) of these were given low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) while in hospital. SSI surveillance was undertaken using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria.Results
In patients who only received mechanical prophylaxis, the incidence of VTE was 0.59% and that of SSI 2.1%. In patients who were additionally given LMWH, the incidence of VTE was 0% and that of SSI 0.7%. The unadjusted p-value was 0.04 for VTE and 0.01 for SSI. There were no cases of epidural haematoma or 90-day mortality in either group. When adjusted for case-mix, LMWH remained a significant factor (p = 0.006) for VTE, but not for SSI.Conclusion
A peri-operative protocol involving mechanical anti-embolism stockings, adequate hydration, and early post-operative mobilisation is effective in significantly reducing the incidence of VTE. The addition of LMWH is safe in patients at higher risk of developing VTE.