Context: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is the most frequent complication following craniotomy for brain tumors. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, VTE after craniotomy for brain tumor is the leading cause of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) among patients hospitalized for conditions other than VTE.
Objective: To minimize VTE among patients undergoing craniotomy for brain tumor.
Design: Randomized, prospective, double-blind clinical trial
Setting: Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Patients: One hundred fifty patients undergoing craniotomy for brain tumor randomized to enoxaparin, 40 mg/d, vs heparin, 5,000 U bid, with all patients receiving graduated compression stockings and intermittent pneumatic compression.
Main outcome measures: The rate of DVT detected by venous ultrasonography prior to hospital discharge.
Results: Symptomatic DVT or PE developed in none of the patients. The overall rate of asymptomatic VTE was 9.3%, with no significant difference in the rates between the two prophylaxis groups. Ten of the 14 patients identified with VTE had thrombus limited to the deep veins of the calf.
Conclusions: Enoxaparin, 40 mg/d, or unfractionated heparin, 5,000 U bid, in combination with graduated compression stockings, intermittent pneumatic compression, and predischarge surveillance venous ultrasonography of the legs, resulted in 150 consecutive patients without symptomatic VTE. The low 9.3% frequency of asymptomatic VTE comprised mostly isolated calf DVT. Therefore, this comprehensive, multimodality approach to VTE prophylaxis achieved excellent efficacy and safety.