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‘New’ direct oral anticoagulants in the perioperative setting

Breuer, Georga; Weiss, Dominik R.b; Ringwald, Juergenb

Current Opinion in Anesthesiology: August 2014 - Volume 27 - Issue 4 - p 409–419
doi: 10.1097/ACO.0000000000000100
DRUGS IN ANESTHESIA: Edited by Klaus Hahnenkamp

Purpose of review Out of the anesthetist's perspective, some uncertainties remain with the perioperative management of the so-called NOACs. This review emphasizes on the question of bleeding and thromboembolic risk as well as the management of bleedings and the discontinuing intervals in the context of regional anesthesia.

Recent findings Managing patients with NOAC therapy, an interdisciplinary approach and consent with surgeons and specialist in hemostaseology has to be found. For severe and lifethreatening bleeding there are specific antidotes in development; however, until clinical provement is not yet finished the application of four-factor prothrombin complex concentrate may be the most promising approach.

Summary NOACs like dabigatran etexilate, rivaroxaban, apixaban and edoxaban are effective alternatives to warfarin in primary and secondary prophylaxis of thromboembolic conditions. In the perioperative setting, some uncertainties and evidence gaps remain in estimating the bleeding risks associated with surgical procedures, emergency trauma and neuroaxial anesthesia. A discontinuation of NOACs should be at least 1 day before elective operation. Renal and liver impairment, older age, or co-medications could afford longer intervals. As no specific reversal agents are yet available for life-threatening bleeding or emergency surgery; nonspecific prohemostatic therapies are mainly recommended. Oral charcoal, application of tranexamic acid or hemodialysis could bring additional benefit depending on the individual NOAC. Practitioners need to be aware that NOACs can interfere in different pathways with the measurement of common hemostasis parameters. Estimating the bleeding risks and reversal strategies requires careful evaluation also in the light of a potential risk of thromboembolic complications. In difference to warfarin, ‘bridging’ concepts are not generally recommended for NOACs.

aDepartment of Anesthesiology

bDepartment of Transfusion Medicine and Haemostaseology, University Hospital of Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany

Correspondence to Dr med G. Breuer, MME, Department of Anesthesiology, University Hospital of Erlangen, Krankenhausstrasse 12, D-91052, Erlangen, Germany. Tel: +49 9131 85 33680; e-mail:,

© 2014 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.