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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Therapeutic anticoagulation can be safely accomplished in selected patients with traumatic intracranial hemorrhage

Matthew C Byrnes123*, Eric Irwin1, Robert Roach1, Molly James2, Patrick K Horst2 and Patty Reicks1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Trauma, North Memorial Medical Center, Robbinsdale, MN, USA

2 Division of Critical Care and Acute Care Surgery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA

3 North Memorial Medical Center, Division of Trauma, 3300 Oakdale Avenue, Robbinsdale, MN 55422, USA

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World Journal of Emergency Surgery 2012, 7:25  doi:10.1186/1749-7922-7-25

Published: 23 July 2012



Therapeutic anticoagulation is an important treatment of thromboembolic complications, such as DVT, PE, and blunt cerebrovascular injury. Traumatic intracranial hemorrhage has traditionally been considered to be a contraindication to anticoagulation.


Therapeutic anticoagulation can be safely accomplished in select patients with traumatic intracranial hemorrhage.


Patients who developed thromboembolic complications of DVT, PE, or blunt cerebrovascular injury were stratified according to mode of treatment. Patients who underwent therapeutic anticoagulation with a heparin infusion or enoxaparin (1 mg/kg BID) were evaluated for neurologic deterioration or hemorrhage extension by CT scan.


There were 42 patients with a traumatic intracranial hemorrhage that subsequently developed a thrombotic complication. Thirty-five patients developed a DVT or PE. Blunt cerebrovascular injury was diagnosed in four patients. 26 patients received therapeutic anticoagulation, which was initiated an average of 13 days after injury. 96% of patients had no extension of the hemorrhage after anticoagulation was started. The degree of hemorrhagic extension in the remaining patient was minimal and was not felt to affect the clinical course.


Therapeutic anticoagulation can be accomplished in select patients with intracranial hemorrhage, although close monitoring with serial CT scans is necessary to demonstrate stability of the hemorrhagic focus.