Objective To examine the incidence of venous thromboembolic disease in the otolaryngology–head and neck surgery (OTO-HNS) patient population.
Design, Setting, and Patients Review of medical records for all patients undergoing a surgical procedure during fiscal years 2008 to 2011 (July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2011) at an academic tertiary care medical center.
Intervention A total of 59 884 total surgical procedures among all the surgical services.
Main Outcome Measures The incidence of deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
Results There were 5616 otolaryngology procedures performed during the study period. Clinically evident deep venous thrombosis developed in 3 patients; 2 of these patients also developed a pulmonary embolism. The overall incidence of deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism in OTO-HNS was 0.05% and 0.035%, respectively. All patients who developed deep venous thrombosis or a pulmonary embolism in the OTO-HNS population were inpatients being treated for cancer. There were no deep venous thromboses or pulmonary emboli in patients undergoing same-day or overnight surgery or in patients without an active cancer. The OTO-HNS service had significantly lower rates of venous thromboembolism than did most other surgical specialties despite lower rates of adherence to venous thromboembolism prophylaxis guidelines.
Conclusions The incidence of deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism among the OTO-HNS patient population at our academic center is lower than the incidence reported in previous studies (range, 0.1%-0.3%) and is significantly lower than the incidence observed in other surgical specialties. It is likely that patient- and specialty-specific factors as well as the more aggressive use of venous thromboembolism prophylaxis during recent years are at least partially responsible for the decreased incidence in our population.