What if I need to have surgery while on an anticoagulant?

Share your medical history with your doctor or medical team, make sure they know what anticoagulant you are on and that there is a plan in place to help prevent blood clots when you are in the hospital and when you return home. You need to see your doctor at least two weeks before surgery.

Depending upon whether the surgery is major, or minor will determine the strategy for managing your anticoagulants. If the surgery is minor the doctor may not stop your anticoagulation at all. If the surgery is major, you will have to be removed temporarily. If a blood clot was 3+ months ago, generally anticoagulants will be stopped (most are 48 hours in advance) and can be started again after the surgery. Some patients are okay being off their anticoagulant and some are not.

Most of the time a plan for surgery is made by assessing a patient’s risk factors. Check out NBCA’s pre-surgery checklist for hip and knee replacement patients. Learn more about managing anticoagulants before, during, and after medical procedures. General guidelines have been made that everyone is put on a low dose of anticoagulants for 2 weeks after a knee replacement, one month after a hip replacement, and variable times after hip fractures. Blood clot risk increases with anything that involved trauma or orthopedics.