Asymptomatic deep vein thrombosis (DVT) has been reported in up to 60-100% of persons with spinal cord injury. Pulmonary embolism (PE) has been reported in up to 5% and is the third leading cause of death in all patients during the first year after injury. DVT usually occurs during the first two weeks after injury, but the risks remain even when a patient moves on to a rehabilitation facility.
The incidence of DVT in neurosurgical patients can be as high as 25% with 1% percent developing PE. Patients are at increased risk if they have undergone prolonged surgeries, have limb weakness, or will be on prolonged bed rest. In patients that have had a craniotomy, stroke, or surgery for brain tumor the use of low molecular weight heparin in DVT prevention increases the patient’s risk of intracranial hemorrhage (ICH). Talk to your doctor about your risk and ways to prevent DVT and PE with spinal cord injury, spine or neurosurgery.