BACKGROUND: The clinical benefit of prophylaxis for venous thromboembolism (VTE) in laparoscopic bariatric surgery is unclear. Our objective was to assess the clinical burden of VTE after laparoscopic bariatric surgery. METHODS: We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis. Studies were considered for the review if they reported on the methods used for antithrombotic prophylaxis and on the incidence of objectively confirmed VTE in patients who had undergone laparoscopic bariatric surgery. RESULTS: Overall, 19 studies were included in the analysis. The weighted mean incidence (WMI) of pulmonary embolism was .5% (12 events in 3991 patients, 12 studies; 95% confidence interval [CI] .2-.9%; I(2) 38%) with unfractionated heparin (5000 UI twice or 3 times daily) or low-molecular-weight heparin (30 mg twice daily or 40 mg once daily). The WMI of major bleeding as originally reported in 7 of these studies was 3.6% (2741 patients; 95% CI .9-7.95; I(2) 94%). The WMI of screened VTE in 3 high-quality studies with different regimens of heparin prophylaxis was 2.0% (8 events in 458 patients; 95% CI .9-3.5%; I(2) 0%). The WMI of symptomatic VTE was .6% (4 studies; 7 events in 1328 patients; 95% CI .3-1.1%; I(2) 0%) and that of major bleeding was 2.0% (95% CI 1.0-3.4%; I(2) 55%), with weight-adjusted doses of heparin prophylaxis. CONCLUSION: The rate of VTE after laparoscopic bariatric surgery seems to be relatively low with standard regimens for antithrombotic prophylaxis. The incidence of major bleeding seems to increase using weight-adjusted doses of heparin with no advantage in terms of VTE reduction.
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