OBJECTIVE: Although thromboprophylaxis is recommended to reduce death and disability from venous thromboembolism (VTE), it remains underused due to a perceived risk of bleeding, especially in major abdominopelvic surgical patients.
METHODS: We conducted a systematic literature review to identify all eligible randomized controlled trials (RCTs), searching MEDLINE and Scopus databases through November 25, 2020. RCTs published in any language were eligible if they studied in gynecological cancer patients undergoing major abdominopelvic surgery and assessed efficacy of mechanical and pharmacological interventions. Studies with insufficient data for pooling or those comparing different doses/schedules of interventions were excluded. Outcomes of interest were composite VTE (ie, deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism) and major bleeding. Relevant data were extracted for direct and network meta-analyses. Risk ratios (RR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) were estimated and the best intervention probability calculated for each outcome. This study was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42019145508).
RESULTS: We identified 1990 studies; 20 RCTs (4970 patients) were eligible. The overall risk of bias was of some concern. In direct meta-analyses, antithrombins were superior to unfractionated heparin in preventing composite VTE (RR 0.69; 95% CI 0.48-0.99), with no difference detected in the rate of major bleeding for any pairwise comparison. In network meta-analyses, graduated compression stockings plus low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) was top-ranked for prevention of composite VTE, whereas sequential compression devices (SCD) ranked second, after no treatment, for major bleeding. In a clustered ranking plot, SCD plus LMWH provided optimal balance between efficacy and safety.
CONCLUSIONS: SCD plus LMWH might be safe and effective in VTE prevention following gynecological cancer surgery. However, the patient's bleeding risk should be considered to balance the risk and benefit of treatment.