Low molecular weight heparin for prevention of venous thromboembolism in patients with lower-leg immobilization

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Abstract

Background: Immobilization of the lower leg is associated with venous thromboembolism (VTE). Low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) is an anticoagulant treatment which might be used in adult patients with lower-leg immobilization to prevent deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and its complications. This is an update of the review first published in 2008. Objectives: To assess the effectiveness of low molecular weight heparin for the prevention of venous thromboembolism in patients with lower-leg immobilization in an ambulant setting. Search methods: For this update the Cochrane Peripheral Vascular Diseases Group Trials Search Co-ordinator searched the Specialised Register (last searched June 2013) and CENTRAL (2013, Issue 5). Selection criteria: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and controlled clinical trials (CCTs) that described thromboprophylaxis by means of LMWH compared with no prophylaxis or placebo in adult patients with lower-leg immobilization. Immobilization was by means of a plaster cast or brace. Data collection and analysis: Two authors independently assessed trial quality and extracted data. The review authors contacted the trial authors for additional information if required. Statistical analysis was carried out using Review Manager (RevMan 5). Main results: We included six RCTs fulfilling the above criteria with a total of 1490 patients. We found an incidence of VTE ranging from 4.3% to 40% in patients who had a leg injury that had been immobilized in a plaster cast or a brace for at least one week and who received no prophylaxis, or placebo. This number was significantly lower in patients who received daily subcutaneous injections of LMWH during immobilization (event rates ranging from 0% to 37%; odds ratio (OR) 0.49; fixed 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.34 to 0.72; with minimal evidence of heterogeneity with an I2 of 20%, P = 0. 29). Comparable results were seen in the following subcategories: operated patients, conservatively treated patients, patients with fractures, patients with soft-tissue injuries, patients with proximal thrombosis, patients with distal thrombosis and patients with below-knee casts. Complications of major bleeding events were extremely rare (0.3%) and there were no reports of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. Authors' conclusions: Use of LMWH in outpatients significantly reduces VTE when immobilization of the lower leg is required.

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Testroote, M., Stigter, W. A. H., Janssen, L., & Janzing, H. M. J. (2014, April 25). Low molecular weight heparin for prevention of venous thromboembolism in patients with lower-leg immobilization. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD006681.pub3

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