The optimal regime of antithrombotic prophylaxis for patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty (TKA) has not been established. Many surgeons employ intermittent pneumatic compression while others use low-molecular-weight heparins (LMWH) which were primarily developed for total hip arthroplasty. We compared the efficacy and safety of these two techniques in a randomised study with blinded assessment of the endpoint by phlebography.
We randomised 130 patients, scheduled for elective TKA, to receive one daily subcutaneous injection of nadroparin calcium (dosage adapted to body-weight) or continuous intermittent pneumatic compression of the foot by means of the arteriovenous impulse system.
A total of 108 patients (60 in the LMWH group and 48 in the mechanical prophylaxis group) had phlebography eight to 12 days after surgery. Of the 47 with deep-vein thrombosis, 16 had received LMWH (26.7%, 95% CI 16.1 to 39.7) and 31, mechanical prophylaxis (64.6%, 95% CI 49.5 to 77.8). The difference between the two groups was highly significant (p < 0.001). Only one patient in the LMWH group had severe bleeding.
We conclude that one daily subcutaneous injection of calcium nadroparin in a fixed, weight-adjusted dosage scheme is superior to intermittent pneumatic compression of the foot for thromboprophylaxis after TKA. The LMWH scheme was also safe.
- Received September 8, 1998.
- Accepted February 16, 1999.
- © 1999 British Editorial Society of Bone and Joint Surgery