WASHINGTON – Nonoperative prophylaxis for blunt solid abdominal organ trauma was found safe when given 48 hours post injury, according to data presented at the annual clinical congress of the American College of Surgeons.
Because updated guidelines for nonoperative management of solid abdominal organ injuries do not state an optimal time for initiation of prophylaxis, investigators, including presenter Caitlyn Harrison, a third-year medical student at the University of Arizona, Tucson, sought to determine how soon is too soon in this patient population.
Theorizing that there would be no difference in bleeding complications and failure rates associated with early venous thromboembolism (VTE) prevention, the investigators reviewed 7 years of patient data (2005-2011) from a single trauma center to compare the safety of early (less than 48 hours), intermediate (48-72 hours), and late (more than 72 hours) initiation of unfractionated heparin (5,000 units, subcutaneously, every 8 hours) in blunt abdominal injury patients.
Included for review were patients whose abdominal injuries were equal to or greater than 3 on the Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS). Patients with head injuries that scored 3 or greater on the AIS and those who had been transferred were excluded.
A total of 116 patients were matched according to whether they had received early (n = 58; 67.2% male; mean age, 40 years), intermediate (n = 29; 69% male; mean age, 44.3 years), or late (n = 29; 72.4% male; mean age, 45 years) initiation of VTE prophylaxis.
They also were matched according to organs injured. The investigators found a preponderance of splenic injuries: 41.4% in the early group, 37.9% in the intermediate, and 45.2% in the late group.
The grade of injury and laboratory values including blood pressure and injury severity also were measured.
The researchers found that none of the patients in the intermediate or late groups reached the primary outcome of the need for a post-treatment blood transfusion, although 3.2% of the early group did, Ms. Harrison said.
No patients in any of the three groups required an operative intervention after nonoperative management, although 1.7% of the early group did require embolization, as did 3.4% each of the intermediate and late groups.
Similarly, while thromboembolisms were not found to have occurred in the early group, they did occur in the intermediate and late groups at a rate of 3.4% each. No mortality was recorded as an outcome in any of the three groups, she said, concluding that "early VTE prophylaxis is safe."
Ms. Harrison reported no relevant disclosures.