How can trauma increase the risk of pulmonary embolism (PE)?

Updated: Sep 18, 2020
  • Author: Daniel R Ouellette, MD, FCCP; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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A prospective study by Geerts and colleagues indicated that major trauma was associated with a 58% incidence of DVT in the lower extremities and an 18% incidence in proximal veins. [12]

Surgical and accidental traumas predispose patients to venous thromboembolism by activating clotting factors and causing immobility. Pulmonary embolism may account for 15% of all postoperative deaths. Leg amputations and hip, pelvic, and spinal surgery are associated with the highest risk.

Fractures of the femur and tibia are associated with the highest risk of fracture-related pulmonary embolism, followed by pelvic, spinal, and other fractures. Severe burns also carry a high risk of DVT or pulmonary embolism.

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