Post-TKA Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Orthopedic and general surgeries are associated with the development of clots in the veins after surgery

Many orthopedic and general surgeries are associated with the development of clots in the veins after surgery. This is called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and is potentially dangerous. The reason: if clots are dislodged from a vein(s) they are swept with the flow of blood towards the heart and then to the lungs. Large clots can block some of the large vessels in the lung. This is called pulmonary emboli (PE) which often represent a medical emergency. DVT causes pain, redness, and swelling of the affected leg, but at times can be without symptoms. PE typically causes shortness of breath and sometimes sharp pain in the chest.

The exact mechanism of DVT development is not known. But it’s widely believed that stagnant (slow) blood flow in the limb is a major contributing factor.

The rate of post-TKA DVT is not high and post-TKA PE is even less frequent. However, because it can be potentially dangerous, all surgeons recommend taking specific measures to counteract and prevent DVT. These include early mobilization:

  • Getting out of bed as soon as possible after surgery.
  • Mechanized massage of the lower leg to stimulate blood flow is often recommended.
  • Some form of blood thinners (anticoagulants) are usually used.

In at least one clinical study it was found that using HemaClear® instead of a pneumatic tourniquet, significantly reduced the rate of post TKA DVT and also reduced PE. But this observation was not statistically significant (p=0.065). It is speculated that this reduction in DVT with HemaClear® is related to its smaller footprint, whereby a lesser length of the veins is compressed during surgery.

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