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Minerva Anestesiologica 2021 Aug 02

DOI: 10.23736/S0375-9393.21.15755-4

Copyright © 2021 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

lingua: Inglese

Thromboprophylaxis in critically ill patients: balancing on a tightrope

Theodoros SCHIZODIMOS 1 , Vasiliki SOULOUNTSI 2, Christina IASONIDOU 1, Nikos KAPRAVELOS 1

1 Second Department of Intensive Care Medicine, George Papanikolaou General Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece; 2 First Department of Intensive Care Medicine, George Papanikolaou General Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece


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Venous thromboembolism (VTE), including deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, is a common and potentially fatal complication in the intensive care unit (ICU). Critically ill patients have some special characteristics that increase the risk for VTE and complicate risk stratification and diagnosis. Given the positive effect of thromboprophylaxis on main outcomes, its use is mandatory in these patients, which is documented by various studies and recommended by all published guidelines. However, anticoagulation management is not an easy issue in clinical practice, as the critical patient may be at high risk for thrombosis or, conversely, at increased risk of bleeding or may balance between thrombotic and bleeding risk. Thrombotic and bleeding risk scoring should be evaluated daily in order to select the appropriate form of thromboprophylaxis. The selection depends on the degree of bleeding risk and the subgroup of ICU patients involved, such as patients with sepsis, acute brain injury, major trauma or coronavirus disease-2019. If there is no bleeding risk or other contraindication, the patient should receive pharmacologic thromboprophylaxis with unfractionated heparin or low molecular weight heparins, weighing the advantages of each agent. If the patient is at high risk of bleeding or there is a contraindication to pharmacologic prophylaxis, he should receive mechanical thromboprophylaxis mainly with intermittent pneumatic compression or graduated compression stockings. Thromboprophylaxis compliance with the guidelines is a prerequisite for moving from theory to practice. Direct oral anticoagulants have been studied in ICU patients and have no place at present in VTE prophylaxis requiring further research.


KEY WORDS: Venous thromboembolism; Unfractionated heparin; Low molecular weight heparin; Mechanical thromboprophylaxis; Coronavirus disease-2019

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