Incidence of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) after thoracotomy has not been widely studied. DVT is a frequent complication in major surgery involving abdominal and pelvic areas and lower extremities. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the rate of postoperative DVTs after surgery of the lung.
In this prospective study with 25 patients undergoing thoracotomy both legs were studied with venous duplex imaging (VDI) preoperatively and on the second postoperative day. Clinically manifest thromboembolic events during one-month postoperative period were reviewed from the patients' records. DVT prophylaxis included compression stockings and early mobilization without low-molecular weight heparin.
Frequency of postoperative DVTs was 4%. There were no clinically manifest thromboembolic events during one-month postoperative period. In 8% of the patients an old DVT was found preoperatively.
Based on this material, incidence of DVT is low after thoracotomy. Early mobilization and the use of compression stockings may be a sufficient form of prophylaxis in these patients. The relatively small sample size and the use of ultrasound as a screening method should be noted in judging the results.