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Arch Cardiovasc Dis. 2011 Dec;104(12):669-76. doi: 10.1016/j.acvd.2011.09.001. Epub 2011 Oct 29.

Surgery and invasive procedures in patients on long-term treatment with direct oral anticoagulants: thrombin or factor-Xa inhibitors. Recommendations of the Working Group on Perioperative Haemostasis and the French Study Group on Thrombosis and Haemostasis.

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Haematology Department, University Hospital, Toulouse 31059, France.


Direct oral anticoagulants (DOAs)--inhibitors of thrombin or factor-Xa--are expected to replace vitamin K antagonists in most of their indications. Patients receiving long-term treatment with DOAs are likely to be exposed to elective or emergency surgery or invasive procedures. Owing to the present lack of experience in such conditions, we cannot make recommendations, but only propose perioperative management for optimal safety regarding the risk of bleeding and thrombosis. DOAs may increase surgical bleeding, they have no validated antagonists, they cannot be monitored by simple standardized laboratory assays and their pharmacokinetics vary significantly between patients. Although DOAs differ in many respects, the proposals in the perioperative setting need not be specific to each. For procedures with low haemorrhagic risk, a therapeutic window of 48 hours (last administration 24 hours before surgery, restart 24 hours after) is proposed. For procedures with medium or high haemorrhagic risk, we suggest stopping DOAs 5 days before surgery to ensure complete elimination in all patients. Treatment should be resumed only when the risk of bleeding has been controlled. In patients at high thrombotic risk (e.g. those in atrial fibrillation with a history of stroke), bridging with heparin (low molecular-weight heparin, or unfractionated heparin, if the former is contraindicated) is proposed. In an emergency, the procedure should be postponed for as long as possible (minimum 1-2 half-lives) and non-specific antihaemorrhagic agents, such as recombinant human activated factor VIIa or prothrombin complex concentrates should not be given for prophylactic reversal due to their uncertain benefit-risk.

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