Venous Thromboembolism in Upper Extremity Fractures

Suresh K. Nayar, Anne M. Kuwabara, José M. Flores, Greg M. Osgood, Dawn M. LaPorte, Babar Shafiq

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) has been studied in lower extremity fractures but little is known of its relation with upper extremity (UE) fractures. As an often overlooked but serious complication, VTE may compromise patient outcomes. METHODS: Using data on inpatients (aged ≥ 18 years) at a level-I trauma center and patients in the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database who sustained UE fractures (clavicle, humerus, or radius/ulna) and VTE in the same hospitalization between 2007 and 2014, the authors analyzed data on demographic characteristics, fracture type, VTE location (pulmonary embolism, lower extremity, or UE), VTE onset, polytrauma, operative or nonoperative management, comorbidities, and mortality. RESULTS: Of 1984 inpatients with UE fractures at 1 instution, 9 experienced VTE on admission, and 17 (15 received thromboprophylaxis) experienced VTE during hospitalization, for an overall VTE rate of 1.3%. VTE occurred most often in patients with fractures of the proximal humerus (3.0%) followed by the clavicle (2.0%), midshaft humerus (1.9%), distal radius/ulna (0.95%), and distal humerus/elbow (0.36%) (p = 0.0035). There were no significant trends in the incidence of PE (p = 0.33) over the study period, but there was a sharp rise since 2011. In the national database, 42 of 11570 (0.36%) patients with UE fracture had VTE, with incidence by fracture location ranging from 0.14% (radius/ulna) to 0.98% (proximal humerus) (p = 0.00001). Predictors were chronic steroid use (odds ratio [OR] = 6.22, p = .030), inpatient status (OR = 4.09, p = .002), and totally disabled functional status (OR = 3.31, p = .021). CONCLUSIONS: VTE incidence was highest following proximal humerus or clavicle fractures and are rarely associated with radius/ulna fractures. There may have been a rise in the incidence of PE since 2007, warranting further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)320-329
Number of pages10
JournalThe journal of hand surgery Asian-Pacific volume
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • National Surgical Quality Improvement Program
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Upper extremity fracture
  • Venous thromboembolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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