Delayed Cranial Decompression Rates After Initiation of Unfractionated Heparin versus Low-Molecular-Weight Heparin in Traumatic Brain Injury

Georgios A. Maragkos, Logan D. Cho, Eric Legome, Raymond Wedderburn, Konstantinos Margetis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Both unfractionated heparin (UH) and low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) are routinely used prophylactically after traumatic brain injury (TBI) to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Their comparative risk for development or worsening of intracranial hemorrhage necessitating cranial decompression is unclear. Furthermore, the absence of a specific antidote for LMWH may lead to UH being used more often for high-risk patients. This study aims to compare the incidence of delayed cranial decompression occurring after initiation of prophylactic UH versus LMWH using the National Trauma Data Bank. Methods: Cranial decompression procedures included craniotomy and craniectomy. Multiple imputation was used for missing data. Propensity score matching was used to account for selection bias between UH and LMWH. The 1:1 matched groups were compared using logistic regression for the primary outcome of postprophylaxis cranial decompression. Results: A total of 218,594 patients with TBI were included, with 61,998 (28.3%) receiving UH and 156,596 (71.7%) receiving LMWH as DVT prophylaxis. The UH group had higher patient age, body mass index, comorbidity rates, Injury Severity Score, and worse motor Glasgow Coma Scale score. After the UH and LMWH groups were matched for these factors, logistic regression showed lower rates of postprophylaxis cranial decompression for the LMWH group (odds ratio, 0.13; 95% confidence interval, 0.11–0.16; P < 0.001). Conclusions: Despite the absence of a specific antidote, LMWH was associated with lower rates of need for post-DVT-prophylaxis in craniotomy/craniectomy. This finding questions the notion of UH being safer for patients with TBI because it can be readily reversed. Randomized studies are needed to elucidate causality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1251-e1261
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
Volume164
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2022

Keywords

  • Chemoprophylaxis
  • Intracranial hemorrhage
  • Traumatic brain injury

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