Sunday, 11 March 2012

DVT Prophylaxis for Day Case Surgery

DVT/PE results in 25000 deaths annually (House of Commons Health Committee report 2004-2005)
DVT happens in 15% to 20% of patients having surgery with a risk of 0.5% of PE (Thrift Consensus Group BMJ 1992) Sweetland et al in BMJ 2009 showed that 1 in 815 women who had day case surgery will develop DVT/PE but that study included biopsies etc and in that study only 60% day case rate was seen.

Many procedures that used to be done as in-patients are routinely done as day cases (and short-stay) these days due to different approaches in technique (e.g. laparoscopic), anaesthesia (e.g. not using opioids), pain control, support arrangements, government directives and societal expectations.

Taking the example of laparoscopic surgery it is different but leaves the patient with an equal or higher risk of hypercoagulable state (Caprini et al Surgical Endoscopy 1995).

On the above basis and the fact that many UK hospitals currently perform a high proportion of our surgery as day cases would lead me to believe that about 0.25% of our day cases are at risk of PE (potentially life threatening). It is one too many any way. We must also consider that most DVTs are silent and many PEs are sudden and many PE related deaths are also very sudden. Further many tend to happen within a 12 week period rather than 30 day mortality which we count.

NICE and DoH guidelines state that patients who are over 60 are at risk. They also state that if there was a risk of reduced mobility and acute illness the patients are risk. Normal logic would mean that we will not be able to predict if any individual patient would not have reduced mobility after surgery (especially the ones that involve general anaesthesia); again once a surgical assault has happened by definition the patient is acutely ill for a temporary period even though recovering quickly.

Cost benefit is an important issue DVT prophylaxis is $100 per day (much lower in many UK hospitals) vs treating an uncomplicated DVT $5000 to $8000. According 2005 House of Parliament health committee report the cost of treating DVT/PE is thought to be £640million (hence extrapolated to about £3.7million for a typical trust). It seems that DVT prophylaxis provides good cost benefit.

DVT general prophylaxis reduces complications and costs at the same time.

I suggest that ALL DAY CASE PATIENTS WHO HAVE A SURGICAL OPERATION UNDER A GENERAL ANAESTHETIC MUST HAVE CLEXANE (unless contraindicated)' This is very simple rule to operationalise in the healthcare world where complexity rules.

It is important to note that -
Not provide prophylaxis at all is not option to be considered as it goes against every available evidence and guideline.
-Selective prophylaxis brings it down to individual complex judgement resulting in variation which is most often harmful.
-General prophylaxis for all day case patients having a surgical operation under a general anaesthetic is probably a better option.

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Note: This blog is not the epitome of high science. I would like to think about balanced practical operational views. 

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