Reducing VTE Risk After Hip & Knee Replacement

Venous thromboembolism (VTE), which encompasses deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE), is one of the most common reasons for readmission following primary hip or knee replacement surgery. However, recent studies suggest that only 0.7% to 0.9% of patients undergoing hip or knee replacements require rehospitalization because of VTE in the first 3 months after surgery. “These surgeries put patients at risk for thromboembolic disease because they affect multiple aspects of Virchow’s triad,” explains Joshua J. Jacobs, MD. Virchow’s triad consists of hypercoagulability, venous stasis, and injury to the vascular endothelium. All three components of the triad can be present following hip or knee replacement surgery and predispose individuals to thrombosis, according to Dr. Jacobs. “DVT occurs in about 37% of patients following primary hip or knee replacement surgery who have not been treated with prophylactic agents. The rate of clinically symptomatic VTE events is far less, but VTE should be an important concern of orthopedic surgeons performing these procedures.” New Guidelines on Preventing VTE Dr. Jacobs chaired a workgroup that updated guidelines from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) on preventing VTE in patients undergoing elective hip and knee arthroplasty. The guidelines were released on September 24, 2011 and are available for free at “The AAOS felt it was necessary to update these guidelines for the first time since 2007 because of the increasing availability of study data that impacted the previous recommendations and to maintain inclusion in the AHRQ’s National Guideline Clearinghouse, which requires an update every 5 years,” says Dr. Jacobs. The American College of Chest Physicians has also published guidelines on VTE...