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SA Orthopaedic Journal

On-line version ISSN 2309-8309
Print version ISSN 1681-150X


JACOBS, HW; ZONDAGH, I  and  WESSELS, PF. Thromboprophylaxis in spinal surgery: A survey of current practice in South Africa. SA orthop. j. [online]. 2017, vol.16, n.1, pp.54-58. ISSN 2309-8309.

BACKGROUND: Patients undergoing spinal surgery are at risk of developing venous thromboembolism (VTE) because of co-morbidities and immobilisation, but the morbidity of bleeding and haematoma formation complicates prophylaxis. A balance between VTE prevention and haematoma formation is therefore critical. Adding to the complexity is that there are currently no clear guidelines on managing these patients and little evidence in the literature. In order to improve management, it is imperative to first establish the current practice of thrombopro-phylaxis in spinal surgery in South Africa. METHODS: A survey of surgeons' peri-operative thromboprophylactic management was conducted with 112 spinal surgeons. RESULTS: The results indicated that a large group of surgeons did not follow a standardised protocol. Mechanical prophylaxis was not used optimally and more surgeons used chemical prophylaxis routinely than mechanical prophylaxis. The surgeons mostly agreed on the type of chemical prophylaxis used and the time of commencement thereof. Contrary to the literature, the surgeons in this study did not differentiate between the surgical approaches used. CONCLUSION: There is currently no consensus on the management of thromboprophylaxis, as evident from the varying responses regarding treatment and complications. It is clear that mechanical prophylaxis is currently under-utilised. Spinal surgeons would benefit from a standardised protocol, and the vast majority of participants in the study agreed with this recommendation.

Keywords : thromboprophylaxis; venous thromboembolism (VTE); spinal surgery; current practice; low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH).

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