Rare Fatal Blood Clot after Knee ArthroscopyThe formation of blood clots is a fairly common problem. Most of the time it isn't dangerous. However, sometimes a blood clot can lodge in the lungs causing death. People are at higher risk for blood clots after certain types of surgeries, such as knee or hip surgery. Blood clots commonly form in the legs. This condition is called deep venous thrombosis (DVT). Sometimes the clots break loose and make their way to the lungs. But DVT rarely causes problems after knee arthroscopy. (Arthroscopy is a procedure using a tiny TV camera and requires only small incisions.)
This article reports on a rare case of a man who died of a blood clot after knee arthroscopy. The man was 46 years old. He had arthroscopy to remove part of the meniscus in his knee. One week later he collapsed and died. Doctors couldn't find anything else to blame for his death besides the knee arthroscopy a week earlier.
Remember, complications of DVT are very rare after arthroscopy. Studies show that about three to eight percent of arthroscopy patients have DVT after surgery. But it almost never causes any symptoms. The authors could find only one other report of a death due to DVT after knee arthroscopy.
The authors conclude that, even if it is rare, surgeons should make sure to take steps to prevent deaths due to DVT after knee arthroscopy. Patients should begin exercises early, and maybe even take a blood thinner if they have other risk factors. Future research will be needed to be sure these methods work to prevent deaths from DVT after arthroscopy.
Ana Navarro-Sanz, MD, and Juan Francisco FernÃ¡ndez-Ortega, MD. Fatal Pulmonary Embolism after Knee Arthroscopy. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. March/April 2004. Vol. 32. No. 2. Pp. 525-528.
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