Pharmacologic reversal of warfarin-associated coagulopathy in geriatric patients with hip fractures: a retrospective study of thromboembolic events, postoperative complications, and time to surgery

Geriatr Orthop Surg Rehabil. 2011 Jul;2(4):128-34. doi: 10.1177/2151458511417434.


Purpose: Patients with acute hip fractures who are on maintenance warfarin for anticoagulation present a significant challenge and their management remains controversial. The purpose of this study was to assess thromboembolic and systemic complications associated with pharmacological reversal of warfarin-associated coagulopathy in a population of geriatric patients with hip fractures.

Methods: This retrospective cohort study identified patients with operative hip fractures on oral warfarin therapy who had an international normalized ratio (INR) >1.50 on admission (N = 93) approximately over a 13-year span. The control group consisted of patients whose warfarin was held upon admission without further intervention preoperatively (n = 23). The treatment group consisted of patients who underwent pharmacologic reversal of elevated INR with vitamin K and/or fresh frozen plasma (FFP) in addition to holding warfarin (n = 70). Primary outcomes included thromboembolic and other complications as well as mortality within 3 months of presentation. Time to surgery was a secondary outcome.

Results: The 3-month mortality rate was 4% in the pharmacological intervention group and 17% in the watch-and-wait group; this difference trended toward statistical significance (P = .06). There were no significant differences in the likelihoods of other thromboembolic or nonthromboembolic complications between groups. While the difference in mean time to surgery was not significantly different overall between groups, this difference was significant in a subgroup of patients with higher baseline INRs (n = 46, INR >2.17), with a mean difference of 4.0 fewer days until surgery in the pharmacological intervention group (P < .01).

Conclusions: Pharmacological reversal of warfarin-associated coagulopathy with a combination of vitamin K and FFP appears to be a safe way to optimize patients for operative fixation of hip fractures and is associated with a shorter delay to surgery in patients with more elevated INRs preoperatively.

Level of evidence: retrospective cohort study (level III).

Keywords: anticoagulation; hip fracture; reversal; warfarin.