Cost and occurrence of thrombocytopenia in patients receiving venous thromboembolism prophylaxis following major orthopaedic surgeries

J Thromb Thrombolysis. 2008 Oct;26(2):125-31. doi: 10.1007/s11239-007-0170-1. Epub 2007 Nov 24.


Background: Many factors impact the choice of anticoagulant used for venous thromboembolism prophylaxis following orthopaedic surgery. Thrombocytopenia (TCP) is an important factor from both clinical and economic perspectives, warranting assessment between the available agents. Thus, a retrospective cohort analysis was conducted to: (1) report the occurrence of TCP in a treatment and no treatment group, (2) evaluate the impact of anticoagulant choice on TCP within the treatment group, and (3) assess the clinical and economic implications of TCP in the treatment group.

Methods: Administrative claims from a hospital database were used to identify patients with hip replacement, knee replacement, or hip fracture surgery. The treatment group (n = 144,806) included patients receiving one of the following injectable anticoagulants post-operatively: dalteparin (n = 16,109); enoxaparin (n = 97,827); fondaparinux (n = 12,532); or unfractionated heparin (UFH) (n = 18,338). The no treatment group consisted of patients who did not receive one of the four injectable anticoagulants (n = 112,574) post-operatively. Outcomes were assessed for the hospitalization period plus 2 months post-discharge while controlling for relevant demographic and clinical characteristics.

Results: The occurrence of TCP was 1.0% in the no treatment group and 1.7% in the treatment group. Within the treatment group, patients who received dalteparin, enoxaparin, and UFH were significantly more likely to experience coded thrombocytopenia than those in the no treatment group. The risk of TCP among patients who received fondaparinux was not significantly different from the no treatment cohort (odds ratio [OR] = 1.15, 95% CI: 0.96-1.37, P = 0.13). Patients in the treatment group with coded TCP had 22% higher adjusted mean total healthcare costs (relative cost difference) compared to those without ($19,134 vs. $15,400, respectively, P < 0.0001), greater mean length of stay (LOS) (8.4 vs. 5.7, respectively), and a greater likelihood of experiencing a venous thromboembolic (VTE) event (6.1% vs. 2.4%, respectively).

Conclusion: Patients treated with fondaparinux did not have a significant increase in the risk of TCP compared to patients not on prophylaxis. In contrast, the risk was increased in those treated with enoxaparin, dalteparin, and UFH compared to the patients not on prophylaxis. Patients in the treatment group with coded TCP experienced more thrombotic events, incurred greater per patient healthcare costs, and experienced longer LOS than patients without coded TCP. Therefore, the risk of TCP should be considered when evaluating the profile of injectable anticoagulants since TCP may have important clinical and economic implications.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anticoagulants / administration & dosage
  • Anticoagulants / adverse effects*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dalteparin / adverse effects
  • Enoxaparin / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Fondaparinux
  • Health Care Costs
  • Heparin / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Injections
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Orthopedic Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Orthopedic Procedures* / economics
  • Polysaccharides / adverse effects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Thrombocytopenia* / chemically induced
  • Thrombocytopenia* / economics
  • Thrombocytopenia* / epidemiology
  • Venous Thromboembolism / etiology
  • Venous Thromboembolism / prevention & control*


  • Anticoagulants
  • Enoxaparin
  • Polysaccharides
  • Heparin
  • Fondaparinux
  • Dalteparin