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Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2010 Nov;92(8):668-72. doi: 10.1308/003588410X12699663904952. Epub 2010 Jul 2.

Is there adequate provision of venous thromboembolism prophylaxis following hip arthroplasty? An audit and international survey.

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  • 1Adult Lower Extremity Reconstruction, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Canada.



The peak incidence of venous thrombo-embolism (VTE) occurs 3 weeks following hip arthroplasty surgery and current guidelines proposing VTE prophylaxis continuing for 4 weeks after surgery. This study first compares the duration of treatment and satisfaction between patients prescribed low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) and rivaroxaban, a new oral Factor Xa inhibitor, following elective hip arthroplasty; and second, surveys the duration of LMWH use in other units.


An international survey detailing the use of LMWH was performed. A prospective audit was performed of 100 hip replacements, with 50 prescribed 40 mg once daily of subcutaneous enoxaparin and subsequently 50 patients prescribed 10 mg once daily of oral rivaroxaban. The duration of treatment, patient satisfaction and complications for both cohorts was quantified and compared against published evidence-based guidelines.


The survey demonstrated that four out of 39 (10.2%) units that routinely prescribe LMWH do so for at least 4 weeks following surgery. The audit demonstrated that rivaroxaban afforded a superior mean duration of postoperative VTE prophylaxis (35 days vs 5.4 days; P < 0.05) and superior patient satisfaction. There was no difference in the incidence of bleeding, wound infection or thrombotic complications.


This study demonstrates that patients are exposed to an increased VTE risk following hip replacement surgery due to the inadequate prescription of LMWH. This is poor clinical practice, contrary to current evidence-based guidelines and has potential medicolegal implications. The prescription of rivaroxaban affords a superior patient compliance compared with subcutaneous LMWH, thus ensuring that patients receive VTE prophylaxis for the current recommend period of time.

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