The rate of venous thromboembolism following surgical treatment of proximal humerus fractures is not well established.
A retrospective review of all patients undergoing surgical treatment for proximal humerus fractures from September 2011 to May 2017 was performed. Included patients received only mechanoprophylaxis using sequential compression devises. All patients had at least 6 months follow-up. The primary outcome of interest was the rate of postoperative DVT and PE.
131 patients underwent 139 surgeries for proximal humerus fracture. After exclusion criteria were applied, 92 patients who underwent 92 surgeries were included. There were 47 females and 45 males. Five (5.4%) were taking Aspirin 81 mg preoperatively. There were 76 cases of open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF), 8 cases of reverse total shoulder arthroplasty, 4 cases of hemiarthroplasty, 3 cases of closed reduction percutaneous pinning (CRPP), 1 case of open reduction without fixation. 53.3% of patients had one or more risk factors for VTE. There were no cases of fatal PE or DVT. There were two cases of symptomatic PE (2.2%) following one ORIF and one CRPP. There was one additional case of asymptomatic PE found incidentally after ORIF. Overall VTE rate was 3.3%. Fisher’s exact test yielded that there was no significant association between the presence of VTE risk factors and prevalence of VTE postoperatively (p = 0.245).
The incidence of symptomatic VTE after surgery for proximal humerus fractures is low. Chemical VTE prophylaxis in patients after surgical fixation for proximal humerus fractures is not universally indicated. Selective prophylaxis for patients with systemic risk factors may be warranted.