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J Surg Res. 2021 Aug 17;268:432-439. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2021.06.074. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Several studies have demonstrated that low-molecular weight heparin (LMWH) is superior to unfractionated heparin (UFH) in trauma patients. The superiority of either one has not been established for the elderly. In this study, we compared LMWH to UFH in elderly trauma patients.
METHODS: A retrospective analysis of the American College of Surgeons’ Trauma Quality Improvement Program database was performed for patients aged ≥65 y. Propensity score matching was performed to minimize confounders between the two groups. Outcomes included venous thromboembolic (VTE) and bleeding events.
RESULTS: Overall, 93,987 patients were identified (mean age 77.1 ± 7.3 y, females 55,035 [58.6%]), of which 67,738 (72.1%) patients received LMWH and 26,249 (27.9%) received UFH. After Propensity score matching, LMWH was associated with a lower incidence of deep venous thrombosis (1.7% versus 2.1%, P = 0.007) and pulmonary embolisms (0.6% versus 1%, P< 0.001). LMWH was also associated with fewer bleeding complications (transfusions: 2.8% versus 3.5%, P< 0.001, procedures: 0.7% versus 0.9%, P = 0.007). Sub-analyses showed that differences in VTE rates were identified in patients with mild injuries (Injury Severity Score [ISS] <16, 0.6% versus 1.9%, P< 0.001). Differences in bleeding complications were identified in patients with injuries of mild (ISS <16, transfusions: 3% versus 3.8%, P< 0.001, surgeries: 0.3% versus 0.4%, P= 0.015) and moderate severity (ISS 16-24, transfusions: 1.9% versus 2.7%, P= 0.038, surgeries: 1% versus 1.7%, P= 0.013).
CONCLUSION: LMWH prophylaxis is superior to UFH for VTE prevention among elderly trauma patients. LMWH prophylaxis is associated with fewer bleeding complications compared to UFH in patients with injuries of mild or moderate severity.