University of Missouri School of Medicine MU Health School of Medicine
News Divider

MU Surgeons Find New Method to Reduce Risk of Blood Clots During Brain Traumas

Treatment is effective for traumatic brain injuries without increasing risk of bleeding inside brain

Researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine have found that a new protocol that uses preventive blood-thinning medication in the treatment of patients with traumatic brain injuries reduces the risk of patients developing life-threatening blood clots without increasing the risk of bleeding inside the brain


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 1.7 million traumatic brain injuries occur each year. One of the most common complications associated with traumatic brain injuries is the risk of dangerous blood clots that can form in the circulatory system elsewhere in the body. For patients with traumatic injuries, the body forms blood clots which can break loose and travel to the lungs or other areas, causing dangerous complications.

"Our study found that treating traumatic brain-injured patients with an anticoagulant, or blood-thinning medication, is safe and decreases the risk of these dangerous clots," said N. Scott Litofsky, MD, chief of the MU School of Medicine's Division of Neurological Surgery and director of neuro-oncology and radiosurgery at MU Health Care. "We found that patients treated with preventive blood thinners had a decreased risk of deep-vein blood clots and no increased risk of intracranial hemorrhaging."

In May 2009, Litofsky, along with study co-author Stephen Barnes, MD, acute care surgeon and chief of the MU Division of Acute Care Surgery, created a new protocol for treating head trauma patients in University Hospital's Frank L. Mitchell Jr., M.D., Trauma Center using blood-thinning medications.

"One of the main challenges in treating patients with traumatic brain injuries is balancing the risk of intracranial bleeding with the risk of blood clots formed elsewhere in the body," Litofsky said.

In the study, the researchers compared the outcomes of 107 patients with traumatic brain injuries who were treated before the new protocol was put into place with the outcomes of 129 patients who were treated with the blood-thinning medication. Among the patients who did not receive blood thinners, six experienced deep-venous clotting, compared with zero instances of the condition in patients who received the medication. Among the patients who did not receive blood thinners, three patients experienced increased bleeding in the brain, compared with one patient who received the medication.

"Based on our results, we will continue to follow the new protocol in our trauma center, and we believe that other trauma centers would benefit from adopting a similar protocol in their practice," Litofsky said. "If we look at this issue across the country, we should hopefully see this complication occurring less often in brain-injured patients."

The study, "Safety and Efficacy of Early Thromboembolism Chemoprophylaxis After Intracranial Hemorrhage from Traumatic Brain Injury," was published online Sept. 20 by the Journal of Neurosurgery, the journal for the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

Click here to download a high-resolution portrait of N. Scott Litofsky.

MU Health Magazine


News and Events

David Chang Grill with Caution
Wire bristles from barbecue brushes can cause serious injuries
Tahir Rahman Extreme Beliefs Often Mistaken for Insanity, New Study Finds
Researchers say new term offers more precise definition of non-psychotic behaviors
Paul Tatum Family Medicine Professor Wins Distinguished Physician Award
Tatum recognized for outstanding care of patients near the end of life
Seth Sherman Minimally Invasive Tendon Repair Technique Supports Knee Movement Sooner after Surgery
Researchers found suture anchors, a less-invasive repair technique, responded better to strength-testing after surgery
2016 Graduation MU School of Medicine Awards 86 Medical Degrees at Commencement Ceremony
The graduates will go on to receive additional training as resident physicians in their chosen specialties
Patrice Delafontaine MU School of Medicine Dean Inducted into Prestigious Medical Society
Delafontaine joins elite group of physicians in American Clinical and Climatological Association
Steven Zweig MU Family Medicine Ranked Among Nation’s Best by U.S. News & World Report
Department has been in top 10 for 23 consecutive years
Uzma Khan MU Initiative Helps Rural Doctors Treat Chronic Pain
Show-Me ECHO to offer special training session April 28
Legacy Teachers MU School of Medicine Program Expands to Other Medical Schools
MU’s Legacy Teachers program lets students recognize patients as educators
Susan Nagel Oil and Gas Wastewater Disposal May Increase Endocrine Disrupting Activity
Scientists draw conclusions after study at natural gas and oil extraction wastewater disposal facility
St. Baldricks 2016 Participants Go Bald for Childhood Cancer Research
Community donates more than $40,000 to the cause

Media Relations
University of Missouri Health System
One Hospital Drive, DC028.00
Columbia, MO 65212
24/7 on-call pager: (573) 876-0708

Mary Jenkins
(573) 882-7299

Jeff Hoelscher
(573) 884-1608

Derek Thompson
(573) 882-3323

Diamond Dixon
(573) 884-7541

Justin Kelley (Photographer)
(573) 882-5786
Pager (573) 397-9289

Web Communications
University of Missouri Health System
One Hospital Drive, MA204G, DC018.00
Columbia, MO 65212
(573) 884-0298

Jennifer Orford
(573) 882-0298

Deidra Ashley
(573) 884-3988

Jesslyn Chew
(573) 884-2891

Velvet Hasner
(573) 884-1115

Justin Willett
(573) 884-7740

Printer Friendly
Follow us on Twitter!   Facebook   YouTube Videos   Instagram   Pinterest  
Website created and maintained by the Office of Communications. Contact the MU School of Medicine.
Revised: January 03, 2014 - Copyright © 2014 - Curators of the University of Missouri. All rights reserved. DMCA and other copyright information. An equal opportunity/access/affirmative action/pro-disabled and veteran employer.