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J Thromb Haemost. 2011 Nov;9(11):2133-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1538-7836.2011.04456.x.

Management of patients with recently implanted coronary stents on dual antiplatelet therapy who need to undergo major surgery.

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Angelo De Gasperis Department of Cardiology, Ospedale Niguarda Ca' Granda, Milan, Italy.


About 5% of patients undergoing coronary stenting need to undergo surgery within the next year. The risk of perioperative cardiac ischemic events, particularly stent thrombosis (ST), is high in these patients, because surgery has a prothrombotic effect and antiplatelet therapy is often withdrawn in order to avoid bleeding. The clinical and angiographic predictors of ST are well known, and the proximity to an acute coronary syndrome adds to the risk. The current guidelines recommend delaying non-urgent surgery for at least 6 weeks after the placement of a bare metal stent and for 6-12 months after the placement of a drug-eluting stent, when the risk of ST is reduced. However, in the absence of formal evidence, these recommendations provide little support with regard to managing urgent operations. When surgery cannot be postponed, stratifying the risk of surgical bleeding and cardiac ischemic events is crucial in order to manage perioperative antiplatelet therapy in individual cases. Dual antiplatelet therapy should not be withdrawn for minor surgery or most gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures. Aspirin can be safely continued perioperatively in the case of most major surgery, and provides coronary protection. In the case of interventions at high risk for both bleeding and ischemic events, when clopidogrel withdrawal is required in order to reduce perioperative bleeding, perioperative treatment with the short-acting intravenous glycoprotein IIb-IIIa inhibitor tirofiban is safe in terms of bleeding, and provides strong antithrombotic protection. Such surgical interventions should be performed at hospitals capable of performing an immediate percutaneous coronary intervention at any time in the case of acute myocardial ischemia.

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