Background: Recent studies have shown that symptomatic venous thromboembolism after total hip arthroplasty most commonly develops after the patient is discharged from the hospital. Risk factors associated with these symptomatic thromboembolic events are not well defined.
Methods: Using administrative data from the California Medicare records for 1993 through 1996, we identified 297 patients 65 years of age or older who were rehospitalized for thromboembolism within three months after total hip arthroplasty. We compared demographic, surgical, and medical variables potentially associated with the development of thromboembolism in these patients and 592 unmatched controls.
Results: A total of 89.6 percent of patients with thromboembolism and 93.8 percent of control patients were treated with pneumatic compression, warfarin, enoxaparin, or unfractionated heparin, alone or in combination. In addition, 22.2 percent and 29.7 percent, respectively, received warfarin after discharge. A body-mass index (the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) of 25 or greater was associated with rehospitalization for thromboembolism, with an odds ratio of 2.5 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.8 to 3.4). In a multivariate model, the only prophylactic regimens associated with a reduced risk of thromboembolism were pneumatic compression in patients with body-mass indexes of less than 25 (odds ratio, 0.3; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.2 to 0.6) and warfarin treatment after discharge (odds ratio, 0.6; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.4 to 1.0).
Conclusions: In patients who underwent total hip arthroplasty, a body-mass index of 25 or greater was associated with subsequent hospitalization for thromboembolism. Pneumatic compression in patients with a body-mass index of less than 25 and prophylaxis with warfarin after discharge were independently protective against thromboembolism.