Background: Oral anticoagulants, such as dabigatran etexilate, an oral, direct thrombin inhibitor, that do not require monitoring or dose adjustment offer potential for prophylaxis against venous thromboembolism (VTE) after total knee replacement surgery.
Methods: In this randomized, double-blind study, 2076 patients undergoing total knee replacement received dabigatran etexilate, 150 mg or 220 mg once-daily, starting with a half-dose 1-4 hours after surgery, or subcutaneous enoxaparin 40 mg once-daily, starting the evening before surgery, for 6-10 days. Patients were followed-up for 3 months. The primary efficacy outcome was a composite of total VTE (venographic or symptomatic) and mortality during treatment, and the primary safety outcome was the incidence of bleeding events.
Results: The primary efficacy outcome occurred in 37.7% (193 of 512) of the enoxaparin group versus 36.4% (183 of 503) of the dabigatran etexilate 220 mg group (absolute difference, -1.3%; 95% CI, -7.3 to 4.6) and 40.5% (213 of 526) of the 150 mg group (2.8%; 95% CI, -3.1 to 8.7). Both doses were noninferior to enoxaparin based on the pre-specified noninferiority criterion. The incidence of major bleeding did not differ significantly between the three groups (1.3% versus 1.5% and 1.3% respectively). No significant differences in the incidences of liver enzyme elevation and acute coronary events were observed during treatment or follow-up.
Conclusions: Dabigatran etexilate (220 mg or 150 mg) was at least as effective and with a similar safety profile as enoxaparin for prevention of VTE after total knee-replacement surgery.