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Keywords:

  • major trauma;
  • prophylaxis;
  • pulmonary embolism;
  • vena cava filter;
  • venous thromboembolism

Abstract

Background

Major trauma patients are at significant risk of developing pulmonary embolism (PE). We aimed to (i) analyse the current incidence and timing of PE after injury; (ii) identify risk factors that predispose major trauma patients to the occurrence of PE; and (iii) describe the use of vena cava filters (VCFs) following major trauma.

Methods

Prospectively collected data from The Alfred Hospital's Trauma Registry were used to identify all major trauma patients admitted over a 7-year period. A multivariable logistic regression model was used to identify factors associated with the occurrence of PE. A similar model was developed to identify factors associated with the use of VCFs inserted at the discretion of the treating clinician.

Results

 A total of 6344 major trauma patients were treated during this period, with 73.2% male, mean age of 44.2, 90.2% with a blunt mechanism of injury and mean injury severity score of 24.3. Prophylactic VCFs were inserted in 511 patients (8.1%), with a mean time to insertion of 3.6 days after injury. There were 45 PE, 2 of which were fatal. The mean time to PE was 12 days post-injury. Three variables were independently associated with the occurrence of PE: the absence of a VCF; number of injuries to the lower limb; and central venous catheterization.

Conclusion

The PE rate was 0.71%. Lower limb injuries and central venous catheterization are independently associated with a higher risk of PE after major trauma and VCFs are associated with a reduced risk.