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Incidence of inferior vena cava thrombosis detected by transthoracic echocardiography in the immediate postoperative period after adult cardiac and general surgery

Department of Anaesthesia and Cardiovascular Critical Care, Medical School, University of Athens, Attikon Hospital of Athens, Haidari, Greece

Summary

Venous thromboembolism is an important complication after general and cardiac surgery. Using transthoracic echocardiography, this study assessed the incidence of inferior vena cava (IVC) thrombosis among a total of 395 and 289 cardiac surgical and major surgical patients in the immediate postoperative period after cardiac and major surgery, respectively. All transthoracic echocardiography was performed by a specialist intensivist within 24 hours after surgery with special emphasis on using the subcostal view in the supine position to visualise the IVC. Of the 395 cardiac surgical patients studied, the IVC was successfully visualised using the subcostal view in 315 patients (79.8%) and eight of these patients (2.5%) had a partially obstructive thrombosis in the IVC. In 250 out of 289 (85%) general surgical patients, the IVC was also clearly visualised, but only one patient (0.4%) had an IVC thrombosis (2.5 vs 0.4%, P <0.05). In summary, visualisation of the IVC was feasible in most patients in the immediate postoperative period after both adult cardiac and major surgery. IVC thrombosis appeared to be more common after adult cardiac surgery than general surgery. A large prospective cohort study is needed to define the risk factors for IVC thrombus and whether early thromboprophylaxis can reduce the incidence of IVC thrombus after adult cardiac surgery.

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