The prevalence of venous thromboembolism in rectal surgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Joshua W. HayesEmail author
  • Éanna J. Ryan
  • Patrick A. Boland
  • Ben Creavin
  • Michael E. Kelly
  • David Beddy
Original Article



Venous thromboembolism (VTE) following rectal surgery is a significant and preventable cause of morbidity and mortality, yet the true prevalence is not well established. This systematic review and meta-analysis assessed the available literature and determined its prevalence following rectal surgery.


A systematic review assessed the prevalence of VTE following rectal surgery. In addition, we evaluated whether subgroups (open vs. minimally invasive or benign vs. malignant resections) impacted on its prevalence or rate of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE).


Thirty-eight studies met the predefined inclusion criteria. The aggregate prevalence of VTE following rectal surgery was 1.25% (95% CI 0.86–1.63), with DVT and PE occurring in 0.68% (95% CI 0.48–0.89) and 0.57% (95% CI 0.47–0.68) of patients. VTE following cancer and benign resection was 1.59% (95% CI 0.60–1.23 and 1.5% (95% CI 0.89–2.12) respectively. The prevalence of VTE in patients having minimally invasive resection was lower than those having open surgery [0.58% (16/2770) vs. 2.22% (250/11278); RR 0.54, 95% CI 0.33–0.86].


This review observed that there is sparse evidence on prevalence of VTE following rectal surgery. It provides aggregated data and analysis of available literature, showing overall prevalence is low, especially in those having minimally invasive procedures.


Venous thromboembolism Deep venous thrombosis Pulmonary embolism Rectal surgery Surgical outcomes 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joshua W. Hayes
    • 1
    Email author
  • Éanna J. Ryan
    • 1
  • Patrick A. Boland
    • 1
  • Ben Creavin
    • 1
  • Michael E. Kelly
    • 1
  • David Beddy
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryJames Connolly Memorial Hospital, BlanchardstownDublinIreland

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