Perioperative anticoagulation in head and neck free flap reconstructions: Experience of an anticoagulative scheme and its modification

Florian D. Grill, Lisa Pilstl, Lucas M. Ritschl, Achim von Bomhard, Herbert Stimmer, Andreas Kolk, Denys J. Loeffelbein, Klaus Dietrich Wolff, Thomas Mücke, Andreas M. Fichter

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1 Scopus citations


Objectives: Microvascular anastomoses in microvascular reconstructions induce rheological changes in the anastomosed vessels and are usually counteracted by anticoagulative medication. There is no regimen commonly agreed on. This study provides an easy to use anticoagulative regimen. Patients and Methods: Consecutive cases of either anticoagulative regimen between 2013 and 2018 that underwent microvascular reconstruction in the head and neck area were included in this retrospective study, resulting in 400 cases in total. Two different anticoagulative regimens were applied to 200 patients in each group: (a) intraoperatively administered unfractionated 5000 I.U. high molecular weight heparin (HMWH) and postoperatively low molecular weight heparin (LMWH, Enoxaparin) 1 mg/kg/body weight postoperatively and (b) intraoperatively LMWH 0.5 mg/kg/body weight as well as 12 h later and 1 mg/kg/body weight postoperatively. Results: The LMWH cohort showed fewer overall thromboembolic (8.5% vs. 11%; p =.40) and peripheral thrombotic events (1% vs. 3.5%; p =.18) and lung embolisms (3% vs. 4%; p =.59). The number of thromboses at the site of the anastomosis was equally distributed. In regard to flap-specific complications, LMWH was associated with a positive effect, in particular with respect to total flap losses (5% vs. 7%; p =.40) and wound-healing disorders (14.5% vs. 20%; p =.145). Conclusion: Findings indicate that intra- and postoperatively administered LMWH as the only anticoagulative medication seems reliable in our clinical routine of head and neck free flap reconstructions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere31096
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes


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