Current guidelines for total joint VTE prophylaxis

dawn of a new day

R. L. Barrack


Venous thromboembolism (VTE) remains an immediate threat to patients following total hip and knee replacement. While there is a strong consensus that steps should be taken to minimise the risk to patients by utilising some forms of prophylaxis for the vast majority of patients, the methods utilised have been extremely variable. Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have been published by various professional organisations for over 25 years to provide recommendations to standardise VTE prophylaxis. Historically, these recommendations have varied widely depending in underlying assumptions, goals, and methodology of the various groups. This effort has previously been exemplified by the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). The former group of medical specialists targeted minimising venographically proven deep vein thrombosis (DVT) (the vast majority of which are asymptomatic) as their primary goal prior to 2012. The latter group of surgeons targeted minimising symptomatic VTE. As a result prior to 2012, the recommendations of the two groups were widely divergent. In the past year, both groups have reassessed the current literature with the principal goals of minimising symptomatic VTE events and bleeding complications. As a result, for the first time the CPGs of these two major subspecialty organisations are in close agreement.


  • No benefits in any form have been received or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.

    This paper is based on a study which was presented at the Winter 2011 Current Concepts in Joint Replacement meeting in Orlando, Florida, 7th – 10th December.

  • Received September 5, 2012.
  • Accepted September 5, 2012.
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