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Open Access Research article

Symptomatic venous thromboembolism and mortality in orthopaedic surgery – an observational study of 45 968 consecutive procedures

Lasse J Lapidus1*, Sari Ponzer1, Hans Pettersson2 and Edin de Bri1

Author Affiliations

1 Section of Orthopaedics, Department of Clinical Science and Education, Södersjukhuset Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

2 Section of Statistics, Department of Clinical Science and Education, Södersjukhuset Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2013, 14:177  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-14-177

Published: 4 June 2013

Abstract

Background

Little information exists on the presentation of symptomatic venous thromboembolism (VTE) in orthopaedic surgery when a defined protocol for thromboprophylaxis is used. The objective with this study was to establish the VTE rate and mortality rate in orthopaedic surgery.

Methods

We performed a prospective, single centre observational cohort study of 45 968 consecutive procedures in 36 388 patients over a 10 year period. Follow-up was successful in 99.3%. The primary study outcome was the incidence of symptomatic deep vein thrombosis (DVT), symptomatic pulmonary embolism (PE) and mortality at 6 weeks, specified for different surgical procedures. The secondary outcome was to describe the DVT distribution in proximal and distal veins and the proportion of VTEs diagnosed after hospital discharge. For validation purposes, a retrospective review of VTEs diagnosed 7–12 weeks postoperatively was also performed.

Results

In total, 514 VTEs were diagnosed (1.1%; 95% CI: 1.10-1.14), the majority (84%) after hospital discharge (432 out of 514).With thromboprophylaxis, high incidence of VTE was found after internal fixation (IF) of pelvic fracture (12%; 95% CI: 5–26), knee replacement surgery (3.7%; 95% CI: 2.8-5.0), after internal fixation (IF) of proximal tibia fracture (3.8%; 95% CI: 2.3-6.3) and after IF of ankle fracture (3.6%; 95% CI: 2.9-4.4). Without thromboprophylaxis, high incidence of VTE was found after Achilles tendon repair (7.2%; 95% CI: 5.5-9.4). In total 1094 patients deceased (2.4%; 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.33- 2.44) within 6 weeks of surgery. Highest mortality was seen after lower limb amputation (16.3%, CI: 13.8-19.1) and after hip hemiarthroplasty due to hip fracture (9.6%, CI; 7.6-12.1).

Conclusion

The overall incidence of VTE is low after orthopaedic surgery but our study highlights surgical procedures after which the risk for VTE remains high and improved thromboprophylaxis is needed.

Keywords:
Deep vein thrombosis; Mortality; Operation; Orthopaedic surgery; Prophylaxis; Pulmonary embolism; Thrombosis; Venous thromboembolism