Venous thromboembolism rates in patients undergoing major hip and knee joint surgery at Waitemata District Health Board: a retrospective audit.

Research paper by J J Dixon, E E Ahn, L L Zhou, R R Lim, D D Simpson, E G EG Merriman

Indexed on: 04 Feb '15Published on: 04 Feb '15Published in: Internal Medicine Journal


Symptomatic venous thromboembolism (VTE) complicates approximately 4% of major orthopaedic surgical procedures performed without thromboprophylaxis. Randomised clinical trials demonstrate primary thromboprophylaxis reduces VTE rates to <1%, with low rates of clinically important bleeding, using low molecular weight heparin (LMWH), oral FXa inhibitors or thrombin inhibitors. We reviewed the rates of VTE in patients undergoing major hip/knee joint surgery at Waitemata District Health Board (WDHB).Cases of VTE within 90 days of orthopaedic surgery were identified by retrospective audit of data from the haematology VTE database. The number of major hip/knee joint surgeries at WDHB from January 2006 to December 2010 was obtained from clinical coding data.The cumulative incidence of VTE within 90 days of surgery was 3.29%. The median time from surgery to diagnosis was 7 days. Deep vein thrombosis comprised 75% of cases, 77.6% distal and 23.2% proximal. Pulmonary embolism comprised 26.5% of VTE; 47.7% had right heart strain on computed tomography/echocardiography. Hip fracture surgery comprised one-third of patients. Of patients developing VTE, 85.5% had chemical thromboprophylaxis - aspirin 73%, LMWH 20 mg 16%, LMWH 40 mg 16%, therapeutic LMWH 3%, unfractionated heparin twice daily 1%, and warfarin 4%; 75.6% received mechanical prophylaxis, while 4% of patients received no prophylaxis.VTE incidence after major hip/knee joint surgery at WDHB is high, with pulmonary embolism comprising almost one-third of all VTE in this study, indicating the prophylaxis given is suboptimal. Implementation of appropriate, extended duration prophylaxis as per evidence-based guidelines is required to reduce these rates.