Extended use of medications to prevent blood clots may benefit patients after major orthopedic surgery

Research Activities, May 2012, No. 381

Extending post-surgical use of medications to prevent blood clots may be beneficial for patients who have undergone major orthopedic surgery such as hip or knee replacement, according to a new review from the Effective Health Care Program at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Standard treatment currently calls for the use of anti-clotting medications 7 to 10 days post-surgery. However, the evidence suggests that up to 28 days or longer may be appropriate.

While there is not enough evidence to determine which type of anti-clotting medication is best, within the heparin class of medications, low molecular-weight heparin was found to be superior to unfractionated heparin. More research, particularly clinical trials, is needed to compare the effectiveness of using single or combination therapies, including medications or mechanical prophylaxis, such as leg compression or foot pumps, and to evaluate the use of medications after less serious types of orthopedic surgery.

You can access this and other evidence reviews at the Effective Health Care Program Web site.

Current as of May 2012
Internet Citation: Extended use of medications to prevent blood clots may benefit patients after major orthopedic surgery: Research Activities, May 2012, No. 381. May 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/may12/0512RA4.html