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Data from a study published online in The Spine Journal suggest that pharmacologic prophylaxis may not significantly reduce venous thromboembolism (VTE) following spine surgery, but may increase other risks. 

The authors conducted a retrospective, cohort study of elective spine surgery patients: 109,609 participants in the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database and 2,855 patients treated at a single institution. They found that independent risk factors for VTE included increasing age, male sex, increasing body mass index, dependent functional status, lumbar spine surgery, longer operative time, perioperative blood transfusion, longer length of stay, and other postoperative complications. Among the institutional patients, 56.3 percent received pharmacologic VTE prophylaxis and of those, 97.1 percent received unfractionated heparin. The authors found no significant reduction in VTE across cohorts but noted a significant increase in postoperative hematoma requiring reoperation among patients receiving prophylaxis. Learn more...