While there are many possible complications associated with total joint arthroplasty (TJA), venous thromboembolism (VTE) is both frequent and potentially severe. Despite this importance, there are inconsistent recommendations for prophylaxis based on patient risk factors.
A predictive model was constructed to compare low-molecular-weight heparin(LMWH) and aspirin (ASA) for prevention of VTE-associated complications following TJA.The model used risks from prior prophylaxis studies to estimate the risk of developing a symptomatic deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, thrombocytopenia, and operative or nonoperative site bleeding. We also evaluated the progression to 4 possible final health states: postphlebitis syndrome, intracranial hemorrhage, death, or baseline health. Within published ranges, we selected assumptions that were favorable to LMWH such that these analyses represent a best case scenario for LMWH or an alternative more aggressive low-molecular-weight heparin alternative (LMWHA). Events and outcomes were assigned quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) losses according to prior studies to determine the effect on patients’ outcomes for ASA and LMWHA prophylaxis.
Assessing VTE risk populations from 0.2% to 2% with life expectancies ranging from 5 to 40 years postoperatively, patients with a risk ratio less than 3.7 showed increased expected QALY with ASA compared to LMWHA. For patients with a baseline VTE risk of 1% and a 15 year life expectancy, a risk ratio of 13.4 was needed to identify patients that would benefit from LMWHA. With life expectancy increased to 30 years, the risk ratio needed to idetify these patients was 7.4.
Patients undergoing TJA should receive ASA chemoprophylaxis in nearly all situations, unless the patient has a significantly increased VTE risk compared to the baseline population and a long life expectancy.

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