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Compression Device May Outperform Meds After Hip Surgery

Leg pump looks as effective as blood thinner, study finds

THURSDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- After hip replacement surgery, a compression device works as well as medication -- and is safer -- for preventing blood clots, a new study suggests.

"This device is as useful as blood thinners for the reduction of blood clots after hip replacement, and it's superior in safety," said study co-author Dr. Douglas E. Padgett, chief of adult reconstruction and joint replacement at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, in a statement. "This has the potential to change the paradigm as to how we prevent blood clots after hip replacement. The efficacy is the same, the safety is markedly better and the cost is comparable."

An estimated 30 percent to 50 percent of hip or knee replacement surgery patients will develop blood clots if preventive measures, such as taking blood thinning medication, aren't taken.

In the study, researchers looked at a compression device that wraps around the leg and pumps it, helping to prevent clots. Typically, these devices are only used in hospitals because they're big and restrict movement, but a new, smaller device can be used outside the hospital.

Researchers randomly assigned 410 hip replacement patients to get a blood thinner or use the compression device. Ultrasound examinations 10 to 12 days after surgery found major bleeding in 6 percent of those who took the blood thinner, but in none who used the device.

The study is published in the March issue of Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has details on hip replacement.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Hospital for Special Surgery, news release, April 6, 2010

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