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Joint Replacement Patients Face Blood Clot Risk in Hospital
Date:1/17/2012

By Denise Mann
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) -- One of every 100 people undergoing knee replacement surgery and 1 of 200 people having hip replacement surgery will develop a blood clot before they leave the hospital, even if they take steps to prevent the development of these blood clots, a new evidence review suggests.

A deep venous thrombosis (DVT) or blood clot can form deep within the veins, usually in the leg. The real risk occurs if these blood clots dislodge, travel through your bloodstream, and block blood flow in your lungs, which is called pulmonary embolism.

The new study, published in the Jan. 18 Journal of the American Medical Association, seeks to provide a reliable benchmark of this risk, but many experts in the field worry that the actual risk of blood clots after joint replacement is really much higher than this study suggests.

Researchers led by Jean-Marie Januel, of the Lausanne University Hospital, in Switzerland, analyzed 47 studies comprising nearly 45,000 joint replacement cases. All patients received preventive measures to lower their risk of developing a blood clot. Despite this treatment, one in every 100 patients undergoing knee replacement and 1 in every 200 patients undergoing hip replacement developed a blood clot before hospital discharge. Prevention typically involves getting patients moving soon after surgery, providing compression stockings or boots and administering some type of medication that prevents clots from forming.

Dr. John Heit, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., wrote an editorial accompanying the new report.

"The authors are trying to estimate the magnitude of the problem among patients who receive the most effective prophylaxis available today," Heit said. But the risk is actually much higher than the study suggests, he said. "One has to understand the period of risk extends beyond the duration of
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