Joint Replacement Surgery & Blood Clots: Important Information

Before your knee or hip joint replacement surgery, there is some important information you need to know about blood clots and hip and knee replacement.

Facts About Joint Replacement Surgery and Blood Clots

  • In the United States, orthopedic surgeons performed about 332,000 hip replacements and about 719,000 knee replacements in 2010.  These procedures are expected to become more common.
  • Major surgery, such as a joint replacement procedure, can affect normal blood flow and clotting, which can contribute the formation of blood clots. The creation of blood clots may result in the following medical conditions: deep vein thrombosis or DVT is a condition in which a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins, commonly in the lower legs or groin. Pulmonary embolism or PE is a condition in which a blood clot breaks loose and travels through the veins to the lungs. Once there, it can block the flow of blood to the lungs and heart, which can be fatal.
  • DVT is widely recognized as a major risk factor facing patients who undergo hip or knee replacement surgery.
  • DVT and PE are often under-diagnosed and serious, but may be prevented and treated if discovered early.
  • Without prophylaxis (preventive treatment), up to 80 percent of orthopedic surgical patients will develop DVT, and 10 to 20 percent will develop PE.
  • Even when proper prevention measures are taken, it is estimated that 3 percent of orthopedic surgical patients will develop DVT, and 1.5 percent will develop PE.

The Impact of DVT and PE

  • DVT and subsequent PE remain the most common cause for emergency room re-admission and death following joint replacement.One-third (about 33 percent) of people with DVT/PE will have a recurrence within 10 years.
  • Long-term, one-third of people who have had a DVT will have long-term complications (post-thrombotic syndrome), such as swelling, pain, discoloration, and scaling in the affected limb.
  • Unfortunately, a recent survey conducted by NBCA showed that only 29 percent of hip replacement patients and 21 percent of knee replacement patients have heard of DVT or PE, and nearly two-thirds did not receive additional information about blood clot risks related to knee and hip replacement surgery from the healthcare care professionals.  

NBCA’s Stop the Clot® THA/TKA Patient Toolkit was made possible by an educational grant provided by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

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