Risk Factors for Blood Clots and Pulmonary Embolisms after Spine Surgery

Deep venous thrombosis (DVT), also known as a blood clot, and pulmonary embolism (PE) are two possible complications that can occur within 30 days after spine surgery.

A study in the upcoming issue of Spine examined data from over 27,000 patients who underwent lumbar or cervical spine surgery. Of these patients, 170 (0.6%) experienced a DVT, 77 (0.3%) experienced a PE, and 36 (0.1%) experienced both.

The results of the study showed that patients age 80 and older, males, and those with BMI>40 were at a higher risk of developing at DVT or PE after spine surgery. Patients who underwent posterior lumbar fusion (PLIF/PLF) or a posterior cervical fusion also had a higher risk of developing a DVT or PE.

As the patient, if you have one or more of the risk factors mentioned above, ask your surgeon what each of you can do to avoid experiencing a DVT or PE after surgery. In addition, be sure to educate yourself on the “warning signs” for a DVT or PE so that you can seek treatment as quickly as possible in the event you do experience these complications.

For additional information on DVT and PE, including symptoms and “warning signs”, visit these websites:




Schoenfed AJ, Herzog JP, Dunn JC, et al. Patient-based and surgical characteristics associated with the acute development of deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism following spine surgery. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) Publish Ahead of Print June 17, 2013.