The risk of venous thromboembolism for orthopaedic patients is often high due to the length of surgery, damage from trauma to bone and soft tissues and lengthy periods of immobility or reduced mobility. Although venous thromboembolism occurs mainly in inpatients a significant number of patients develop venous thromboembolism post discharge
To synthesise the best available evidence on strategies that effectively reduce post discharge venous thromboembolism in orthopaedic patients.
Types of participants
Patients regardless of age, gender or co-morbidities that have been admitted with an acute orthopaedic injury (unplanned) or a planned orthopaedic surgery/procedure and then followed up after discharge. Only papers describing the incidence and prophylaxis treatment used in non-Asian patients were considered for inclusion.
Types of interventions
Any interventions of combinations of chemoprophylaxis and/or mechanical prophylaxis to prevent venous thromboembolism incidence extending beyond hospital admission.
Types of outcomes
Outcomes included diagnosis of venous thromboembolism following an orthopaedic admission/surgery for up to 6 months post discharge and the incidence of any significant bleeding or death related to venous thromboembolism or haemorrhage.
Types of studies
The review considered any randomised controlled trials; in the absence of RCTs other research designs, such as non-randomised controlled trials and before and after studies, were considered
Search strategy considered only papers in English from 2000 to March 2012.
Papers selected for retrieval were assessed using standardised critical appraisal instruments from the Joanna Briggs Institute.
Data was extracted from the studies using the standardised Johanna Briggs Institute data extraction form.
Of the included studies none matched methodology, treatment or comparator that allowed meta-analysis. The results were therefore presented in a narrative form and were structured using patient population, then intervention and then analysis of results.
20 articles were included in the systematic review. The overall incidence of post discharge venous thromboembolism in orthopaedic patients is not possible to determine due to the variability in reporting criteria and poor follow-up. Use of Low Molecular Weight Heparins was generally shown to be effective in preventing venous thromboembolism. The new generation Factor Xa inhibitors were shown to improve venous thromboembolism prevention however had a slightly higher risk of bleeding. There was limited high level research presented to allow effective assessment of aspirin and/or mechanical compression devices.
Prevention of post discharge venous thromboembolism is complex due to the number of variables that can influence its occurrence. The risk of post discharge venous thromboembolism varies among different patient populations so consideration must be given to matching the risk for each of those groups with available interventions.
Implications for practice
For higher risk orthopaedic patient groups such as those with large joint replacements and femoral fractures low molecular weight heparins should be considered and continued where possible post discharge for thirty days however the risk profile for venous thromboembolism and bleeding must be considered for both populations and individuals.
Implications for research
Consideration in future research design must be given to factors such as: adequate follow-up time, and standardised criteria to measure the incidence of post discharge venous thromboembolism.