Journal of Neurosurgery, Ahead of Print.
OBJECTIVEVenous thromboembolism (VTE) is a common and potentially life-threatening complication. The risk of serious hemorrhagic complications when starting chemical prophylaxis for VTE prevention is a substantial concern for neurosurgeons. The objective of this study was to perform an updated systematic review and meta-analysis to determine if the rates of VTE and bleeding complications are different in patients undergoing chemoprophylaxis compared with placebo or mechanical prophylaxis alone following cranial or spinal procedures.METHODSIn February 2016 a systematic literature review was performed identifying 3944 articles from 4 different databases. A random-effects meta-analysis was performed after identifying the articles that met inclusion criteria.RESULTSNine articles that met the inclusion criteria were included. The quality of the studies was good, with all of them being classified as Level 2 evidence, with moderate Jadad scores. A meta-analysis comparing chemoprophylaxis with placebo in the prevention of deep venous thrombosis showed a significant benefit to chemical prophylaxis (OR 0.51, 95% CI 0.37–0.71; p < 0.0001). No significant increase in major intracranial hemorrhage (p = 0.60), major extracranial hemorrhage (p = 0.98), or minor bleeding complications (p = 0.60) was found.CONCLUSIONSBased on moderate-to-good quality of evidence, chemoprophylaxis is beneficial in preventing VTE, with no significant increase in either major or minor bleeding complications in patients undergoing cranial and spinal procedures. Further research is needed to determine whether this conclusion holds true for more specific subpopulations.