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Antithrombotic Therapy and Prevention of Thrombosis, 9th Ed: American College of Chest Physician Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines Online Only Articles |

Prevention of VTE in Orthopedic Surgery PatientsPrevention of VTE in Orthopedic Surgery Patients: Antithrombotic Therapy and Prevention of Thrombosis, 9th ed: American College of Chest Physicians Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines FREE TO VIEW

Yngve Falck-Ytter, MD; Charles W. Francis, MD; Norman A. Johanson, MD; Catherine Curley, MD; Ola E. Dahl, MD; Sam Schulman, MD, PhD; Thomas L. Ortel, MD, PhD; Stephen G. Pauker, MD; Clifford W. Colwell, Jr, MD
Author and Funding Information

From the Department of Medicine (Dr Falck-Ytter), School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH; Hematology/Oncology Unit (Dr Francis), University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY; Department of Orthopaedic Surgery (Dr Johanson), Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA; Division of Hospital Medicine (Dr Curley), MetroHealth Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH; Innlandet Hospitals (Dr Dahl), Brumunddal, Norway; Thrombosis Research Institute (Dr Dahl), Chelsea, London, England; Department of Medicine (Dr Schulman), Division of Hematology and Thromboembolism, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada; Hemostasis and Thrombosis Center (Dr Ortel), Duke University Health System, Durham, NC; Tufts Medical Center (Dr Pauker), Boston, MA; and Shiley Center for Orthopaedic Research and Education at Scripps Clinic (Dr Colwell), La Jolla, CA.

Correspondence to: Yngve Falck-Ytter, MD, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Case and VA Medical Center, 10701 East Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44106; e-mail: Yngve.Falck-Ytter@case.edu


Funding/Support: The Antithrombotic Therapy and Prevention of Thrombosis, 9th ed: American College of Chest Physicians Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines received support from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [R13 HL104758] and Bayer Schering Pharma AG. Support in the form of educational grants was also provided by Bristol-Myers Squibb; Pfizer, Inc; Canyon Pharmaceuticals; and sanofi-aventis US.

Disclaimer: American College of Chest Physician guidelines are intended for general information only, are not medical advice, and do not replace professional medical care and physician advice, which always should be sought for any medical condition. The complete disclaimer for this guideline can be accessed at http://chestjournal.chestpubs.org/content/141/2_suppl/1S.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (http://www.chestpubs.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).


Chest. 2012;141(2_suppl):e278S-e325S. doi:10.1378/chest.11-2404
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Background:  VTE is a serious, but decreasing complication following major orthopedic surgery. This guideline focuses on optimal prophylaxis to reduce postoperative pulmonary embolism and DVT.

Methods:  The methods of this guideline follow those described in Methodology for the Development of Antithrombotic Therapy and Prevention of Thrombosis Guidelines: Antithrombotic Therapy and Prevention of Thrombosis, 9th ed: American College of Chest Physicians Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines in this supplement.

Results:  In patients undergoing major orthopedic surgery, we recommend the use of one of the following rather than no antithrombotic prophylaxis: low-molecular-weight heparin; fondaparinux; dabigatran, apixaban, rivaroxaban (total hip arthroplasty or total knee arthroplasty but not hip fracture surgery); low-dose unfractionated heparin; adjusted-dose vitamin K antagonist; aspirin (all Grade 1B); or an intermittent pneumatic compression device (IPCD) (Grade 1C) for a minimum of 10 to 14 days. We suggest the use of low-molecular-weight heparin in preference to the other agents we have recommended as alternatives (Grade 2C/2B), and in patients receiving pharmacologic prophylaxis, we suggest adding an IPCD during the hospital stay (Grade 2C). We suggest extending thromboprophylaxis for up to 35 days (Grade 2B). In patients at increased bleeding risk, we suggest an IPCD or no prophylaxis (Grade 2C). In patients who decline injections, we recommend using apixaban or dabigatran (all Grade 1B). We suggest against using inferior vena cava filter placement for primary prevention in patients with contraindications to both pharmacologic and mechanical thromboprophylaxis (Grade 2C). We recommend against Doppler (or duplex) ultrasonography screening before hospital discharge (Grade 1B). For patients with isolated lower-extremity injuries requiring leg immobilization, we suggest no thromboprophylaxis (Grade 2B). For patients undergoing knee arthroscopy without a history of VTE, we suggest no thromboprophylaxis (Grade 2B).

Conclusions:  Optimal strategies for thromboprophylaxis after major orthopedic surgery include pharmacologic and mechanical approaches.

Figures in this Article

Note on Shaded Text: Throughout this guideline, shading is used within the summary of recommendations sections to indicate recommendations that are newly added or have been changed since the publication of Antithrombotic and Thrombolytic Therapy:American College of Chest Physicians Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines (8th Edition). Recommendations that remain unchanged are not shaded.

2.1.1. In patients undergoing total hip arthroplasty (THA) or total knee arthroplasty (TKA), we recommend use of one of the following for a minimum of 10 to 14 days rather than no antithrombotic prophylaxis: low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH), fondaparinux, apixaban, dabigatran, rivaroxaban, low-dose unfractionated heparin (LDUH), adjusted-dose vitamin K antagonist (VKA), aspirin (all Grade 1B), or an intermittent pneumatic compression device (IPCD) (Grade 1C).

Remarks: We recommend the use of only portable, battery-powered IPCDs capable of recording and reporting proper wear time on a daily basis for inpatients and outpatients. Efforts should be made to achieve 18 h of daily compliance. One panel member believed strongly that aspirin alone should not be included as an option.

2.1.2. In patients undergoing hip fracture surgery (HFS), we recommend use of one of the following rather than no antithrombotic prophylaxis for a minimum of 10 to 14 days: LMWH, fondaparinux, LDUH, adjusted-dose VKA, aspirin (all Grade 1B), or an IPCD (Grade 1C).

Remarks: We recommend the use of only portable, battery-powered IPCDs capable of recording and reporting proper wear time on a daily basis for inpatients and outpatients. Efforts should be made to achieve 18 h of daily compliance. One panel member believed strongly that aspirin alone should not be included as an option.

2.2. For patients undergoing major orthopedic surgery (THA, TKA, HFS) and receiving LMWH as thromboprophylaxis, we recommend starting either 12 h or more preoperatively or 12 h or more postoperatively rather than within 4 h or less preoperatively or 4 h or less postoperatively (Grade 1B).

2.3.1. In patients undergoing THA or TKA, irrespective of the concomitant use of an IPCD or length of treatment, we suggest the use of LMWH in preference to the other agents we have recommended as alternatives: fondaparinux, apixaban, dabigatran, rivaroxaban, LDUH (all Grade 2B), adjusted-dose VKA, or aspirin (all Grade 2C).

Remarks: If started preoperatively, we suggest administering LMWH ≥ 12 h before surgery. Patients who place a high value on avoiding the inconvenience of daily injections with LMWH and a low value on the limitations of alternative agents are likely to choose an alternative agent. Limitations of alternative agents include the possibility of increased bleeding (which may occur with fondaparinux, rivaroxaban, and VKA), possible decreased efficacy (LDUH, VKA, aspirin, and IPCD alone), and lack of long-term safety data (apixaban, dabigatran, and rivaroxaban). Furthermore, patients who place a high value on avoiding bleeding complications and a low value on its inconvenience are likely to choose an IPCD over the drug options.

2.3.2. In patients undergoing HFS, irrespective of the concomitant use of an IPCD or length of treatment, we suggest the use of LMWH in preference to the other agents we have recommended as alternatives: fondaparinux, LDUH (Grade 2B), adjusted-dose VKA, or aspirin (all Grade 2C).

Remarks: For patients in whom surgery is likely to be delayed, we suggest that LMWH be initiated during the time between hospital admission and surgery but suggest administering LMWH at least 12 h before surgery. Patients who place a high value on avoiding the inconvenience of daily injections with LMWH and a low value on the limitations of alternative agents are likely to choose an alternative agent. Limitations of alternative agents include the possibility of increased bleeding (which may occur with fondaparinux) or possible decreased efficacy (LDUH, VKA, aspirin, and IPCD alone). Furthermore, patients who place a high value on avoiding bleeding complications and a low value on its inconvenience are likely to choose an IPCD over the drug options.

2.4. For patients undergoing major orthopedic surgery, we suggest extending thromboprophylaxis in the outpatient period for up to 35 days from the day of surgery rather than for only 10 to 14 days (Grade 2B).

2.5. In patients undergoing major orthopedic surgery, we suggest using dual prophylaxis with an antithrombotic agent and an IPCD during the hospital stay (Grade 2C).

Remarks: We recommend the use of only portable, battery-powered IPCDs capable of recording and reporting proper wear time on a daily basis for inpatients and outpatients. Efforts should be made to achieve 18 h of daily compliance. Patients who place a high value on avoiding the undesirable consequences associated with prophylaxis with both a pharmacologic agent and an IPCD are likely to decline use of dual prophylaxis.

2.6. In patients undergoing major orthopedic surgery and increased risk of bleeding, we suggest using an IPCD or no prophylaxis rather than pharmacologic treatment (Grade 2C).

Remarks: We recommend the use of only portable, battery-powered IPCDs capable of recording and reporting proper wear time on a daily basis for inpatients and outpatients. Efforts should be made to achieve 18 h of daily compliance. Patients who place a high value on avoiding the discomfort and inconvenience of IPCD and a low value on avoiding a small absolute increase in bleeding with pharmacologic agents when only one bleeding risk factor is present (in particular the continued use of antiplatelet agents) are likely to choose pharmacologic thromboprophylaxis over IPCD.

2.7. In patients undergoing major orthopedic surgery and who decline or are uncooperative with injections or an IPCD, we recommend using apixaban or dabigatran (alternatively rivaroxaban or adjusted-dose VKA if apixaban or dabigatran are unavailable) rather than alternative forms of prophylaxis (all Grade 1B).

2.8. In patients undergoing major orthopedic surgery, we suggest against using inferior vena cava (IVC) filter placement for primary prevention over no thromboprophylaxis in patients with an increased bleeding risk or contraindications to both pharmacologic and mechanical thromboprophylaxis (Grade 2C).

2.9. For asymptomatic patients following major orthopedic surgery, we recommend against Doppler (or duplex) ultrasound (DUS) screening before hospital discharge (Grade 1B).

3.0. We suggest no prophylaxis rather than pharmacologic thromboprophylaxis in patients with isolated lower-leg injuries requiring leg immobilization (Grade 2C).

4.0. For patients undergoing knee arthroscopy without a history of prior VTE, we suggest no thromboprophylaxis rather than prophylaxis (Grade 2B).

Total hip arthroplasty (THA) and total knee arthroplasty (TKA) are performed with increasing frequency, with close to 200,000 procedures for THA alone in the United States each year.1 The risk for VTE in major orthopedic surgery, in particular THA and hip fracture surgery (HFS), is among the highest for all surgical specialties, and deaths from VTE still occur, albeit very infrequently. This article discusses prophylaxis of VTE in patients undergoing orthopedic surgery, including THA, TKA, and HFS; below-knee injuries; and arthroscopic procedures. We have included only the drugs that have been approved by regulatory agencies in more than one country.

1.1 Outcomes of Interest

All recommendations are based on the use of prophylaxis to reduce the patient-important outcomes of fatal and symptomatic pulmonary embolism (PE) and symptomatic DVT balanced against the hazard of an increase in symptomatic bleeding events. The design and reporting of clinical trials creates challenges in applying this approach. Studies have used varying definitions of important bleeding, and it was sometimes difficult to extract data regarding patient-important bleeding outcomes (those that led to transfusion or an intervention, such as reoperation). Additionally, most trials before 2000 used asymptomatic DVT detected by screening tests as a primary end point. When symptomatic DVTs were not reported, we used the relative risk estimate from asymptomatic DVT. Pulmonary embolisms (PEs) were assumed to be symptomatic unless the study described systematic screening for PE.2Table 1 summarizes the questions we addressed.

Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 1 —[Introduction] Structured Clinical Questions

ASA = aspirin; HFS = hip fracture surgery; IVC = inferior vena cava; LDUH = low-dose unfractionated heparin; LMWH = low-molecular-weight heparin; PE = pulmonary embolism; PICO = population, intervention, comparator, outcome; RCT = randomized controlled trial; THA = total hip arthroplasty; TKA = total knee arthroplasty; VKA = vitamin K antagonist.