Ultra-early therapeutic anticoagulation after craniotomy – A single institution experience

Cecile Riviere-cazaux, Ryan M. Naylor, Jamie J. Van Gompel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a paucity of information regarding the optimal timing of initiation or re-initiation of therapeutic anticoagulation after intracranial surgery. Anticoagulation that is started too soon after surgery may increase the risk of catastrophic intracranial bleeding. However, there are scenarios that necessitate the use of anticoagulation in the immediate post-operative period despite the increased risk of hemorrhage. Therefore, we sought to report our experience with ultra-early therapeutic anticoagulation after craniotomy. Retrospective chart review of patients from a single institution between 1/1/2010 and 10/1/2021 who were treated with therapeutic anticoagulation for venous thromboembolism on or before 7-days after a craniotomy or craniectomy. The primary endpoint was intracranial hemorrhage resulting in death or return to the operating room for hematoma evacuation. Secondary endpoints included extra-cranial hemorrhage, length of hospital stay, and 90-day readmission rate. Eighteen patients were included for analysis. The median time that therapeutic anticoagulation was started was post-operative day 5 (range 1–7 days). One patient (5.6%) met the primary endpoint as they experienced an intracranial hemorrhage 5 days after starting anticoagulation, which required surgical evacuation. No patients experienced an extra-cranial hemorrhage. The median length of hospitalization was 13 days (range 4–89 days). No patients were readmitted within 90 days. The 90-day survival rate was 100%. Ultra-early anticoagulation after craniotomy resulted in a 5.6% risk of intracranial hemorrhage. Thus, ultra-early anticoagulation can be performed safely but it does carry a substantial risk of intracranial bleeding that may require emergent hematoma evacuation or result in permeant neurologic deficits or death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-51
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Anticoagulation
  • Craniectomy
  • Craniotomy
  • Intracranial hemorrhage
  • Venous thromboembolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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