Patients undergoing pelvic lymphadenectomy and radical retropubic prostatectomy are traditionally considered to be at high risk for postoperative venous thromboembolic complications. A prospective deep venous thrombosis screening regimen was initiated at our medical center in 1990 following 2 cases of fatal pulmonary embolism that occurred after hospital discharge. During a 3-year period 245 consecutive patients undergoing radical retropubic prostatectomy for prostate cancer were screened postoperatively for lower extremity deep venous thrombosis using ultrasound duplex scanning with color Doppler flow imaging. The results were correlated only with the development of clinical deep venous thrombosis. No additional diagnostic modalities were used to confirm a normal venous system in asymptomatic patients. Venous thromboembolic complications were encountered in 9 of the 245 patients (3.6 percent). In 2 patients deep venous thrombosis was associated with nonfatal pulmonary embolism. Only 2 of the 9 cases of deep venous thrombosis were detected by color Doppler flow imaging screening. The striking decrease in the incidence of deep venous thrombosis following radical prostatectomy in the last decade and the low yield of screening at a single point in time may warrant reconsideration of the need for deep venous thrombosis screening among patients undergoing pelvic lymphadenectomy and radical retropubic prostatectomy for prostate cancer.
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