Risk of deep venous thrombosis in elective neurosurgical procedures: A prospective, Doppler ultrasound-based study in children 12 years of age or younger

Andrea G. Scherer, Ian K. White, Kashif A. Shaikh, Jodi Smith, Laurie L. Ackerman, Daniel H. Fulkerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE The risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) from deep venous thrombosis (DVT) is significant in neurosurgical patients. VTE is considered a leading cause of preventable hospital deaths and preventing DVT is a closely monitored quality metric, often tied to accreditation, hospital ratings, and reimbursement. Adult protocols include prophylaxis with anticoagulant medications. Children's hospitals may adopt adult protocols, although the incidence of DVT and the risk or efficacy of treatment is not well defined. The incidence of DVT in children is likely less than in adults, although there is very little prospectively collected information. Most consider the risk of DVT to be extremely low in children 12 years of age or younger. However, this consideration is based on tradition and retrospective reviews of trauma databases. In this study, the authors prospectively evaluated pediatric patients undergoing a variety of elective neurosurgical procedures and performed Doppler ultrasound studies before and after surgery. METHODS A total of 100 patients were prospectively enrolled in this study. All of the patients were between the ages of 1 month and 12 years and were undergoing elective neurosurgical procedures. The 91 patients who completed the protocol received a bilateral lower-extremity Doppler ultrasound examination within 48 hours prior to surgery. Patients did not receive either medical or mechanical DVT prophylaxis during or after surgery. The ultrasound examination was repeated within 72 hours after surgery. An independent, board-certified radiologist evaluated all sonograms. We prospectively collected data, including potential risk factors, details of surgery, and details of the clinical course. All patients were followed clinically for at least 1 year. RESULTS There was no clinical or ultrasound evidence of DVT or VTE in any of the 91 patients. There was no clinical evidence of VTE in the 9 patients who did not complete the protocol. CONCLUSIONS In this prospective study, no DVTs were found in 91 patients evaluated by ultrasound and 9 patients followed clinically. While the study is underpowered to give a definitive incidence, the data suggest that the risk of DVT and VTE is very low in children undergoing elective neurosurgical procedures. Prophylactic protocols designed for adults may not apply to pediatric patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-76
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Deep venous thrombosis
  • Elective
  • Neurosurgery
  • Pediatric
  • Ultrasound
  • Vascular disorders
  • Venous thromboembolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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