Taking Steps to Prevent Blood Clots after Knee Joint Replacement SurgeryDoctors agree that blood clots after knee surgery are a serious problem. This is a real concern with total knee replacements. Preventing blood clot formation, medically known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), is paramount. Blood clots can break off and travel to the lungs or brain causing death or stroke. The best way to prevent DVT remains uncertain.
DVT can occur right away, so drugs to prevent clotting are used during and after the operation. Other measures are also taken. For example, leg pumps placed over the legs apply pressure on and off after surgery. This keeps the blood moving through the veins back to the heart. Early physical therapy to get the patient up and moving is also advised.
This study looked at the effectiveness of using every way possible to prevent DVT. Should prevention begin before the operation or only after a clot occurs? Do all clots have to be treated? These researchers believe that DVT can occur at the time of the operation, confirming that measures to prevent DVT should begin during surgery.
Only four percent of the patients developed blood clots when using drugs, leg pumps, and activity as preventive measures. This is much lower than the usual 50 percent when steps are not taken to prevent DVT. Future studies may be able to tell us which one or two measures work best. Perhaps a certain combination will prevent problems of DVT.
Richard D. Reitman, MD, et al. A Multimodality Regimen for Deep Venous Thrombosis Prophylaxis in Total Knee Arthroplasty. In The Journal of Arthroplasty. March 2003. Vol. 18. No. 2. Pp. 161-168.
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