How We Reduce The Chance Of A Blood Clot
Operating on a joint increases the risk of developing a blood clot. While this is a rare occurrence, there is an even smaller risk that the clot can move to the lungs and become life threatening. We recommend a variety of measures to decrease these risks. If you or a close family member has had a blood clot or pulmonary embolism, you may already take an anti-coagulant (blood thinning) medication. If so, we will work with your doctors to allow your blood to clot normally during surgery, but then to restart your blood thinner afterwards.
Spinal anesthesia protects against blood clots and is our first choice for our joint replacement patients when possible.
We minimize the pressure and duration of tourniquet use during knee replacement surgery.
During surgery, and throughout your hospital stay, we use mechanical calf compression devices, which have been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of developing a clot by simulating the surge of pressure that occurs within the leg veins when walking.
We usually use medication to supplement the mechanical compression devices. These medications may include aspirin, heparin, or Coumadin. We generally recommend 4 weeks of treatment.
The best way to prevent blood clots is early mobilization (walking). You will have visits, twice daily, by the physical and occupational therapists during your hospitalization. The more you participate, the better.