Indian Journal of Anaesthesia

: 2007  |  Volume : 51  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 228--230

Pulmonary thromboembolism following laparoscopic cholecystectomy in a patient with preexisting risk factors for deep venous thrombosis

Jyotsna A Goswami1, Aparna S Budhakar2,  
1 MD, Consultant, Department of Anaesthesiology, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai 400 026, India
2 MD, FRCA, Consultant, Department of Anaesthesiology, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai 400 026, India

Correspondence Address:
Jyotsna A Goswami
Department of Anaesthesiology, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai 400 026


We report a case of a forty-five year old male who was admitted fifteen days prior with biliary pancreatitis. He developed pulmonary thromboembolism (PTE) after uneventful laparoscopic cholecystec­tomy. He was initially treated with intravenous (IV) heparin and inferior vena cava (IVC) filter. Later on he underwent emergency pulmonary embolectomy due to haemodynamic deterioration. There is less incidence of PTE after laparoscopic cholecystectomy, but it becomes high-risk for postoperative thromboembolic complications when it is associated with other risk factors. The purpose of this report is to highlight that preoperative detection of risk factors and thromboprophylaxis in indicated cases can prevent this complication. We also review the incidence of PTE, risk factors and thromboprophylaxis.

How to cite this article:
Goswami JA, Budhakar AS. Pulmonary thromboembolism following laparoscopic cholecystectomy in a patient with preexisting risk factors for deep venous thrombosis.Indian J Anaesth 2007;51:228-230

How to cite this URL:
Goswami JA, Budhakar AS. Pulmonary thromboembolism following laparoscopic cholecystectomy in a patient with preexisting risk factors for deep venous thrombosis. Indian J Anaesth [serial online] 2007 [cited 2020 Jul 12 ];51:228-230
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Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is associated with risk of postoperative thromboembolism [1], [2], [3] due to venous stasis caused by pneumoperitoneum [4],[5] and reverse trendelenburg position [5]. Pneumoperitoneum may also induce a thrombogenic condition [2], [5], [6]. Incidence in­creases in case of preexisting risk factors. We de­scribe a case where patient developed PTE on first postoperative day after uneventful laparoscopic chole­cystectomy.

 Case report

A 45-yr-old, 65-kg male patient with hypertension was scheduled for laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Fif­teen days prior to surgery he was admitted in inten­sive care unit (ICU) with acute biliary pancreatitis for 3 days. No thromboprophylaxis was started. Anaesthe­sia was induced with midazolam-fentanyl-propofol­-atracurium and maintained with O 2 -N 2 O-isoflurane­fentanyl-atracurium. Immediate perioperative course was uneventful. Next morning he developed sudden onset of severe dyspnoea followed by syncope. SpO 2 was 88% on air. Arterial blood gas confirmed hypoxemia. Chest X-ray was normal. ECG showed S1Q3T3 pat­tern which is characteristic of pulmonary embolism. D-Dimer was 2000 -1. 2-Dimensional echocardiography revealed right atrio-ventricular dilata­tion with right ventricular dysfunction and mean pul­monary artery pressure (PAP) 35 mmHg with left ventricular ejection fraction of 60%. Venous Doppler study of lower limb showed floating thrombus in su­perficial femoral vein extending from its mid-part to popliteal vein. PTE was suspected which was con­firmed by spiral angiotomography which showed throm­bus in both right and left pulmonary vessels [Figure 1], [Figure 2]. He was treated with supplemental oxygen, heparin and filter in IVC. Next day as his haemodynamic status deteriorated he was put on ventilatory support. Inotropic support was started with dopamine. Invasive monitoring were established. Central venous pressure ( CVP ) was 18 mmHg, heart rate 170 minute -1 and arterial blood pressure (ABP) 110/70 mmHg with dopamine infusion at the rate of 8 -1 .min -1 . SpO 2 was 95% with FiO 2 of 0.8. He was taken for emergency pulmonary embolectomy. Intraoperatively we continued monitoring of all the parameters and maintained anaesthesia with midazolam, fentanyl, vecuronium and isoflurane-air-oxygen. Embolectomy was done with cardiopulmonary bypass which was unevent­ful. At the end of surgery he was electively ventilated in the ICU. His trachea was extubated on the third postoperative day. On the ninth day there was sudden deterioration in haemodynamic status due to bleeding from cystic artery which was embolized. However, he developed sepsis and disseminated intravascular co­agulation and died on eleventh day.


The risk of thromboembolism after laparoscopic cholecystectomy is still debated. There is wide varia­tion in reported incidences. Low incidence (0-2%) was reported by several authors [7],[8] whereas Patel et al reported incidence as high as 55% [9].

There are various risk factors [10] described. De­pending on these factors surgical patients have been classified into four risk groups by American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) [11]. As per ACCP our pa­tient fitted into high risk group as he was in the age group of 40-60 years, immobilized prior to surgery and his surgery lasted more than 30 minutes. Still he was neither screened for DVT nor provided thromboprophylaxis. Apart from patient risk factors there are some risk factors related to the surgery itself In 1993, Jorgensen et al [12] reported 3 cases of venous thromboem­bolism (VTE) among 438 laparoscopic cholecystectomies in spite of using thromboprophylaxis with heparin and com­pression stockings. The author pointed out that the reverse Trendelenburg position was the responsible factor. Beebe et al [13] analyzed 8 patients to evaluate the effect of pneu­moperitoneum on various parameters and observed sig­nificant increase in femoral venous pressure, decrease in venous pulse and reduction in blood flow velocity after pneumoperitoneum, which came back to normal after 5 minutes of deflation. Prisco et al [6] investigated haemostatic alterations in 8 patients and demonstrated thrombogenicity.

Regarding thromboprophylaxis, Bradburry et al [14] in a survey in England and Ireland in 1993 showed that 400 surgeons out of 417 used thromboprophylaxis commonly with heparin. Tvedskov et al [15] conducted a similar survey in Denmark, in which all 46 surgeons used prophylaxis and LMWH was the drug of choice. In a randomized, double-blind prospective study, Okuda et al [16] compared the use of heparin and intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) versus IPC alone in relation to thrombogenesis and suggested that the combined therapy was more effective. ACCP has laid a guideline for thromboprophylaxis in dif­ferent surgical risk group [11]. Recently, Society of Ameri­can Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) in their website [17] mentioned that until adequate data becomes available, the recommendations for open surgical proce­dures should be followed when the same procedures are accomplished via laparoscopic access. It was failure on our part as a team that we overlooked the risk factors and did not use thromboprophylaxis. We conclude that there is low but definite risk of VTE after laparoscopic procedure which should not be underestimated. Detailed preopera­tive evaluation, risk stratification and thromboprophylaxis in indicated cases will help to prevent this dreadful compli­cation.


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