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BACKGROUND: Despite a proven superior efficacy of prophylactic low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) over unfractionated heparin (UFH) in the majority of surgical specialties, chemoprophylactic techniques after spine surgery have not been established because of the fear of epidural hematomas with LMWH.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the efficacy of LMWH vs UFH in the prevention of venous thromboembolism (VTE) events, balanced against the risk of epidural hematoma.

METHODS: This is the first matched cohort design that directly compares prophylactic LMWH to UFH after spine surgery for degenerative/deformity pathologies at a tertiary academic center. Prospectively collected patients receiving prophylactic LMWH and a historical cohort of patients receiving prophylactic UFH (prior to 2017) were matched in 1:1 ratio based on age ±5 yr, American Society of Anesthesiologists classification, location in the spinal column, and type of surgery.

RESULTS: Of 562 patients, VTE events equaled 1.4% (n = 8): 1.4% (n = 4) with LMWH was exactly equal to 1.4% (n = 4) with UFH. Epidural hematomas reached 0.8% (n = 5): 1.4% (n = 4) with UFH vs 0.3% (n = 1) with the LMWH (P = .178). Utilizing adjusted odds ratio (ORadj), the type of chemoprophylaxis after spine surgery failed to predict VTE events. Similarly, the chemoprophylactic technique failed to predict epidural hematoma in the multivariable regression analysis, although UFH trended toward a higher complication rate (ORadj = 3.15 [0.48-20.35], P = .227).

CONCLUSION: Chemoprophylactic patterns failed to predict VTE. Although no differences in epidural hematoma rates were detected, our analysis does highlight a trend toward a safer profile with LMWH vs UFH. LMWH may be a safe alternative to UFH in spine surgery.

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ePub ahead of print





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