Information for Patients and Caregivers

Information for Patients and Caregivers - Undergoing Major Orthopaedic Surgery

What is a venous blood clot?

Venous blood clots originate in the blood vessels that transport the blood back to the heart and from there to the lungs. Venous thromboembolism (VTE) can take the form of either a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot in a deep vein (usually in the leg), or a pulmonary embolism (PE), a potentially life-threatening blood clot blocking a vessel in the lungs.1

VTE is one of the most frequent and serious complications following hip or knee replacement surgery. And studies show that about half of the patients undergoing major orthopaedic surgery will develop venous blood clots if they do not receive preventive care.

Methods for preventing VTE

The methods for preventing VTE can be divided into 2 categories: mechanical and pharmaceutical. Recent guidelines recommend the routine use of antithrombotic agents for surgical patients at highest risk of VTE (e.g., those undergoing elective hip replacement or knee replacement surgery).

These guidelines are considered by many to be the “gold standard” for preventing thromboembolism.

The guidelines also say that mechanical methods (such as compression stockings) should be used primarily in patients who are at high risk of bleeding or in addition to antithrombotic therapy.