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Are blood thinners post-op killers?
Date:3/31/2008

Current US guidelines for the prescription of potent anticoagulants by surgeons who perform joint replacement operations could be doing patients more harm than good, according to Dr. Nigel Sharrock and his team from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. They argue for a revision of the American College of Chest Physicians guidelines, in light of their review showing that the use of powerful anticoagulants to prevent pulmonary embolism may actually lead to more deaths among patients who take these drugs. The paper (1) was published in the March issue of Springers journal Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research.

Anticoagulants are routinely prescribed before and after total hip and knee replacement operations to reduce the risk of thrombosis, and death from pulmonary embolism in particular, as recommended by the Chest Physicians Consensus Statement. During the last decades, deaths from pulmonary embolism have fallen significantly due to a combination of advancements in anesthesia, better surgical techniques and care pre- and post-surgery, as well as a better understanding of how thrombosis develops as a result of surgery. In light of these developments, Sharrock and his team looked at whether the prescription of potent anticoagulants by surgeons who perform joint replacement operations is still warranted, as these drugs also have side effects.

The authors reviewed 20 studies among a total of just over 28,000 patients undergoing joint replacement surgery who were prescribed medication to reduce the risk of thrombosis. They compared the total number of deaths and cases of non-fatal pulmonary embolism between three frequently used prevention protocols worldwide. Patients in group A received potent anticoagulants such as low molecular weight heparin; those in group B received local spinal or epidural anesthesia, pneumatic compression and aspirin; patients in group C were prescribed slow-acting oral anticoagulants such as warfarin.


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Contact: Joan Robinson
joan.robinson@springer.com
49-622-148-78130
Springer
Source:Eurekalert

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