Document Type



Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery



Introduction Although venous thromboembolism (VTE) is seen with morbidity and mortality in various surgical specialties, scarce data are available in the head and neck surgery domain. Objective We aim to determine the incidence of VTE in patients receiving surgery for head and neck cancer. Methods Four hundred thirteen patients who underwent head and neck surgery procedures between 2005 and 2013 were reviewed retrospectively. All patients with head and neck surgery had received thromboprophylaxis (i.e., compression stockings and subcutaneous heparin). Patient demographics, operating time, and length of hospital stay were analyzed. The incidence of symptomatic deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) during the initial postoperative hospitalization was assessed. Results Twelve patients were identified who developed VTE. Three patients developed DVT, and nine developed PE. The incidence of DVT and PE was 0.72 and 2.17%, respectively. Interestingly, all of these patients had undergone excision of extensive head and neck cancers accompanied by a reconstructive procedure. Patients who developed PE had a longer hospital stay compared with those who only had DVT. There were overall three mortalities in the nine patients who developed PE. Conclusion Although VTE has a low incidence, it is a known complication of extensive head and neck surgeries with life-threatening outcomes. We recommend early mobilization and physiotherapy with the possible aid from appropriate mechanical and pharmacologic thromboprophylaxis.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Int Arch Otorhinolaryngol