Standard Fixed Enoxaparin Dosing for Venous Thromboembolism Prophylaxis Leads to Low Peak Anti-Factor Xa Levels in Both Head and Neck and Breast Free Flap Patients

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Journal of reconstructive microsurgery


INTRODUCTION: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a serious complication, particularly in cancer patients undergoing free flap reconstruction. Subcutaneous enoxaparin is the conventional prophylaxis for VTE prevention, and serum anti-factor Xa (afXa) levels are being increasingly used to monitor enoxaparin activity. In this study, free flap patients receiving standard enoxaparin prophylaxis were prospectively followed to investigate postoperative afXa levels and 90-day VTE and bleeding-related complications.

METHODS: Patients undergoing free tissue transfer during an 8-month period were identified and prospectively followed. Patients received standard fixed enoxaparin dosing at 30 mg twice daily in head and neck (H&N) and 40 mg daily in breast reconstructions. Target peak prophylactic afXa range was 0.2 to 0.5 IU/mL. The primary outcome was the occurrence of 90-day postoperative VTE- and bleeding-related events. Independent predictors of afXa level and VTE incidence were analyzed for patients that met the inclusion criteria.

RESULTS: Seventy-eight patients were prospectively followed. Four (5.1%) were diagnosed with VTE, and six (7.7%) experienced bleeding-related complications. The mean afXa levels in both VTE patients and bleeding patients were subprophylactic (0.13 ± 0.09 and 0.11 ± 0.07 IU/mL, respectively). Forty-six patients (21 breast, 25 H&N) had valid postoperative peak steady-state afXa levels. Among these, 15 (33%) patients achieved the target prophylactic range: 5 (33%) H&N and 10 (67%) breast patients. The mean afXa level for H&N patients was significantly lower than for breast patients (p = 0.0021). Patient total body weight was the sole negative predictor of afXa level (R (2) = 0.47, p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSION: Standard fixed enoxaparin dosing for postoperative VTE prophylaxis does not achieve target afXa levels for the majority of our free flap patients. H&N patients appear to be a particularly high-risk group that may require a more personalized and aggressive approach. Total body weight is the sole negative predictor of afXa level, supporting a role for weight-based enoxaparin dosing.

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ePub ahead of print