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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. American volume.

Volume 97, Issue 18, 16 September 2015, Pages 1503-1511.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.2106/JBJS.N.01067

Copyright © 2015 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated.


BACKGROUND: The risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in patients undergoing intramedullary nailing for skeletal metastatic disease is currently undefined. The purpose of our study was to determine the risk of thromboembolic events, to define the risk factors for VTE, and to define the rate of wound complications in this population.

METHODS: A retrospective review of surgical databases at three National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers identified 287 patients with a total of 336 impending or pathologic long-bone fractures that were stabilized with intramedullary nailing between February 2001 and April 2013. Statistical analysis was performed utilizing multivariable logistic regression and Fisher exact tests.

RESULTS: The overall rate of VTE was twenty-four (7.1%) of the 336; thirteen (3.9%) were pulmonary embolism (PE), and eleven (3.3%), deep venous thrombosis (DVT). In two patients, adequate anticoagulation data were not available. We found no significant relationship between the type of anticoagulant used and VTE. There was a significant positive correlation found between lung-cancer histology and the development of VTE (p < 0.001) or PE (p < 0.001). The absence of radiation therapy approached significance (p = 0.06) with respect to decreased overall VTE risk. Wound complications were documented for 11 (3.3%) of the operations.

CONCLUSIONS: There is a high rate of VTE among those with skeletal metastatic disease who undergo intramedullary nailing, even while receiving postoperative thromboembolic prophylaxis. Current anticoagulation protocols may be inadequate. Wound-complication risk with anticoagulant use in this population is low and should not be a deterrent to adequate anticoagulant use for this population.

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