Association of Steroid Use with Deep Venous Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism in Neurosurgical Patients: A National Database Analysis

Bryan A. Lieber, James Han, Geoffrey Appelboom, Blake E.S. Taylor, Byoung Jun Han, Nitin Agarwal, E. Sander Connolly

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32 Scopus citations


Objective Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a major preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in hospitalized patients and is a widely accepted measure for quality of care. Prolonged corticosteroid therapy, which is common in neurosurgical patients, has been associated with VTE. Using a national database, we sought to determine whether corticosteroid use for >10 days was an independent risk factor for deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). Methods The well-validated American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database was queried to evaluate the rates of VTE during the period 2006-2013 in patients undergoing neurosurgical procedures. A multivariate regression model was constructed to assess the effect of prolonged corticosteroid use on the occurrence of PE and DVT by postoperative day 30. Results Of 94,620 patients identified, 565 (0.60%) developed PE and 1057 (1.12%) developed DVT within 30 days after surgery. In the multivariate model, patients receiving corticosteroids were significantly more likely to have PE (odds ratio = 1.47, 95% confidence interval = 1.13-1.90, P = 0.004) and DVT (odds ratio = 1.55, 95% confidence interval = 1.28-1.87, P < 0.001). Other factors independently associated with development of PE and DVT included the presence of malignancy, longer hospitalization, certain infections (including pneumonia and urinary tract infections), and stroke with a neurologic deficit. Conclusions In the neurosurgical population, prolonged courses of corticosteroids are associated with an increased risk of developing postoperative DVT and PE, even when controlling for potential confounders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-132
Number of pages7
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Key words Corticosteroids
  • National Surgical Quality Improvement Program
  • Pulmonary embolism


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