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Blood Clot Threat After Surgery Worse Than Thought
Date:12/3/2009

Risk continues for 12 weeks and includes minimally invasive procedures, study finds

THURSDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Potentially fatal blood clots after surgery are a much greater risk than has previously been thought, a British study finds.

"What is most striking is that not only is the risk higher, but that it lasts much longer than people have thought," said Dr. Jane Green, a clinical epidemiologist at the University of Oxford and a leader of the team reporting the findings in the Dec. 4 online edition of BMJ.

Blood clots in the deep veins and the lungs, formally called venous thromboembolism, have long been known as a possible complication after any form of surgery. The new study, using data on nearly 1 million women in the United Kingdom who were tracked for an average of 6.2 years after surgery, outlines the risk in precise detail.

One of every 140 women who had surgery that required a hospital stay was readmitted for venous thromboembolism within 12 weeks of the operation. The rate was highest for hip or knee replacement surgery at one in 45, and was one in 85 after cancer surgery. The incidence after operations not requiring a hospital stay was one in 815, the researchers found.

By contrast, the incidence of venous thrombosis during a 12-week period for women who did not have surgery was one in 6,200.

And the risk of such a blood clot remained high for at least 12 weeks after surgery, the study found.

"The extent of the problem is bigger than we thought," said Dr. Alexander Cohen, an honorary consultant vascular physician at King's College Hospital in London, who wrote an accompanying editorial.

The study punctures a belief that surgery done through small incisions -- called keyhole surgery in England, minimally invasive or laparoscopic in the United States -- reduces the risk of venous thromboembolism, Cohen said. "A lot more surgery is being done by keyho
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