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Systematic Review Article

Venous Thromboembolism Following Major Abdominal Surgery for Cancer: A Guide for the Surgical Intern

[ Vol. 28 , Issue. 10 ]


Christina A. Theochari, Nikoletta A. Theochari*, Konstantinos S. Mylonas, Dimitrios Papaconstantinou, Ilias Giannakodimos, Eleftherios Spartalis, Nikolaos Patelis and Dimitrios Schizas*   Pages 787 - 797 ( 11 )


Background: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a term used to compositely describe deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). Overall, the incidence of VTE after major abdominal and pelvic surgery has been reported to be between 10% and 40%.

Objective: The aim of this study is to estimate the incidence of post-operative VTE in patients undergoing major abdominal surgery for cancer, to identify risk factors associated with VTE, and to assess available thromboprophylaxis tools.

Methods: A Medline and Cochrane literature search from database inception until February 1st, 2021 was performed according to the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines.

Results: Thirty-one studies met our eligibility criteria and were included in the current review. In total, 435,492 patients were identified and the overall incidence of VTE was 2.19% (95% CI: 1.82-2.38). Τhe following risk factors were associated with VTE: smoking, advanced age (>70 years), a history of diabetes mellitus, American Society of Anesthesiologists’ (ASA) classification of Physical Health class III or IV, a history of cardiovascular or pulmonary disease, a history of DVT or PE, elevated plasma fibrinogen level, c-reactive protein (CRP) level, cancer stage III or IV, postoperative acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), prolonged postoperative hospital stay, previous steroid use, history of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), heart failure and neoadjuvant and adjuvant chemotherapy.

Conclusion: VTE remains an important complication after major abdominal surgery for cancer and seems to increase mortality rates.


VTE, DVT, PE, abdominal surgery, cancer, prophylaxis.


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