"PULMONARY embolism is the most common single cause of death in the elderly injured."1 This conclusion was reached by Sevitt and Gallagher after meticulously dissecting the pulmonary arteries in a large number of trauma victims. The most likely source for these emboli was felt to be a thrombus formed in the deep veins of the lower extremity.
These observations led to wide-scale investigations into the causes and prevention of thromboembolism in accident victims. Studies on fatal injuries predominate since the venous thrombosis and pulmonary emboli commonly observed at autopsy were seldom suspected clinically. While postmortem studies confirm the frequency of thromboembolism,2-4 additional reports suggest that anticoagulant prophylaxis is effective in reducing both clinical and autopsy incidency of these conditions.5-7
Nevertheless, the dangers of thromboembolism to trauma patients are not generally acknowledged in this country. Part of the reason for this is explained by a reluctance to consider
Freeark RJ, Boswick J, Fardin R. Posttraumatic Venous Thrombosis. Arch Surg. 1967;95(4):567-575. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1967.01330160037005