Is Routine Postoperative Anticoagulation Necessary in All Patients after First Rib Resection for Paget-Schroetter Syndrome?

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BACKGROUND: Definitive treatment of Paget-Schroetter syndrome (PSS) involves first rib resection (FRR), division of the anterior scalene muscle, and resection of the subclavius muscle. This is a single-institution experience with PSS, according to a treatment algorithm of preoperative venogram (accompanied by lysis and percutaneous mechanical thrombectomy as needed) followed by transaxillary FRR. In the later period of this experience, patients have often been discharged on aspirin only, with no plan for anticoagulation postoperatively. We sought to evaluate outcomes in light of this experience and these practice patterns.

METHODS: Between 2007 and 2018, 125 transaxillary FRRs were performed in 123 patients. All patients presented with documented venous thrombosis, underwent diagnostic venography and-if indicated-lysis and percutaneous mechanical thrombectomy (VPT) before FRR. The patient was not offered FRR if the vein could not be crossed with a wire and patency was not re-established during percutaneous treatment. The experience was divided into early (before 2012, n = 50) and late (n = 75) periods.

RESULTS: Mean patient age was 28.4 (12-64 years) years. Of the cohort, 33 were high-level competitive athletes, 13 presented with documented pulmonary embolism in addition to local symptoms, and 3 had a cervical rib fused to the first rib. Patients underwent FRR a median of 50 (4 days to 18 years) days after their initial symptoms, and a median of 22 (1 day to 9 months) days after their percutaneous intervention. Postoperative VPT was required in 23 patients and performed a median of 5 (1-137 days) days postoperatively; in 19 of these patients, postoperative VPT was required for postoperative re-thrombosis, whereas in 4 patients, postoperative VPT was planned before FRR due to vein stenosis or residual thrombus. All these patients were prescribed postoperative anticoagulation. No operative venous reconstruction or bypass was performed. Median follow-up time after FRR was 242 days; at last follow-up, 98.4% (123/125) of axillosubclavian veins were patent by duplex ultrasound (and all those patients were asymptomatic). Postoperative anticoagulation was less frequently prescribed in the late experience, with no difference in the rate of early re-thrombosis or follow-up patency.

CONCLUSIONS: This experience demonstrates 98.4% patency at last follow-up with standard preoperative percutaneous venography and intervention, transaxillary FRR, and postoperative endovascular re-intervention only in cases with persistent symptoms, stenosis, or re-thrombosis. Patients presenting with both acute and chronic PSS did not require surgical venous reconstruction. In the later experience, patients frequently have not been anticoagulated postoperatively. Advantages of this algorithm include the following: (1) the cosmetic benefits of the transaxillary approach, (2) the preoperative assessment of the ability to recanalize the vein to determine which patients will benefit from surgery, (3) the capacity to use thrombolysis preoperatively, and (4) potential elimination of the risk and inconvenience of postoperative anticoagulation.



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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Medicine, Cardiology Division

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