The objective of this study was to compare two methods of thromboembolic prophylaxis: sequential compression devices alone (SCDs) vs. SCDs with subcutaneous low-dose unfractionated heparin (UH). A retrospective cohort study was conducted of 168 patients who had undergone surgery for suspected gynecological malignancies. These patients were examined for associated risk factors, method of prophylaxis, and incidence of clinically significant thromboembolic events. Of these patients, 94 (56%) received perioperative and postoperative sequential compression devices alone, while 74 (44%) received both SCDs and subcutaneous low-dose UH. The postoperative course of these patients, while in the hospital and after discharge, was followed for clinically evident thromboembolic complications. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed. The two groups were comparable in terms of most risk factors, including age, stage, height, weight, body surface area, estimated blood loss, total anesthesia time, and nodal disease. Six of 94 patients (6.4%) in the SCDs group suffered from venous thromboembolism, while four of 74 patients (5.4%) who received both SCDs and low-dose UH had a thromboembolic event (χ2 P = 0.79). There was no difference in postoperative changes in platelet counts between the two groups. Heparin added additional cost, 105 extra minutes of nursing time per patient per admission, and additional pain for the patient. In conclusion, the addition of subcutaneous low-dose unfractionated heparin to SCDs for prophylaxis against deep venous thrombosis in women undergoing surgery for gynecologic malignancies does not improve the outcome. Adding heparin was more expensive, time consuming, and painful. Heparin should not be used with SCDs unless an additional benefit can be demonstrated in a randomized controlled trial.
- compression devices
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