A randomized controlled trial was set up to investigate whether patients who were taking warfarin and had an International Normalised Ratio (INR) within the normal therapeutic range require cessation of their anticoagulation drugs before dental extractions. Of 109 patients who completed the trial, 52 were allocated to the control group (warfarin stopped 2 days before extraction) and 57 patients were allocated to the intervention group (warfarin continued). The incidence of bleeding complications in the intervention group was higher (15/57, 26%) than in the control group (7/52, 14%) but this difference was not significant. Two patients in the study required hospital review for bleeding and all other episodes of bleeding were controlled by patients at home. Continuing warfarin when the INR is < 4.1 may lead to an increase in minor post-extraction bleeding after dental extractions but we found no evidence of an increase in clinically important bleeding. As there are risks associated with stopping warfarin, the practice of routinely discontinuing it before dental extractions should be reconsidered.
Copyright 2002 The British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.