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J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2012 Jan;94(1):113-21. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.94B1.27301.

Meta-analysis of cause of death following total joint replacement using different thromboprophylaxis regimens.

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Hospital for Special Surgery, 535 East 70th Street, New York, New York 10021, USA.


We performed a meta-analysis of modern total joint replacement (TJR) to determine the post-operative mortality and the cause of death using different thromboprophylactic regimens as follows: 1) no routine chemothromboprophylaxis (NRC); 2) Potent anticoagulation (PA) (unfractionated or low-molecular-weight heparin, ximelagatran, fondaparinux or rivaroxaban); 3) Potent anticoagulation combined (PAC) with regional anaesthesia and/or pneumatic compression devices (PCDs); 4) Warfarin (W); 5) Warfarin combined (WAC) with regional anaesthesia and/or PCD; and 6) Multimodal (MM) prophylaxis, including regional anaesthesia, PCDs and aspirin in low-risk patients. Cause of death was classified as autopsy proven, clinically certain or unknown. Deaths were grouped into cardiopulmonary excluding pulmonary embolism (PE), PE, bleeding-related, gastrointestinal, central nervous system, and others (miscellaneous). Meta-analysis based on fixed effects or random effects models was used for pooling incidence data. In all, 70 studies were included (99 441 patients; 373 deaths). The mortality was lowest in the MM (0.2%) and WC (0.2%) groups. The most frequent cause of death was cardiopulmonary (47.9%), followed by PE (25.4%) and bleeding (8.9%). The proportion of deaths due to PE was not significantly affected by the thromboprophylaxis regimen (PA, 35.5%; PAC, 28%; MM, 23.2%; and NRC, 16.3%). Fatal bleeding was higher in groups relying on the use of anticoagulation (W, 33.8%; PA, 9.4%; PAC, 10.8%) but the differences were not statistically significant. Our study demonstrated that the routine use of PA does not reduce the overall mortality or the proportion of deaths due to PE.

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