Efficacy and safety of low-molecular-weight heparin after knee arthroscopy: A meta-analysis

PLoS One. 2018 Jun 21;13(6):e0197868. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0197868. eCollection 2018.


Background: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is considered a potentially serious complication of knee arthroscopy and leads to conditions such as deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). Low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) is widely employed in knee arthroscopy to reduce perioperative thromboembolic complications. However, the efficacy and safety of LMWH in knee arthroscopy remains unclear.

Methods: Seven randomized controlled clinical trials on LMWH in knee arthroscopy were identified and included in this meta-analysis. The main outcomes of the effectiveness (prevention of DVT and PE) and complications (death, major bleeding, and minor bleeding) of LMWH in knee arthroscopic surgery were assessed using Review Manager 5.3 software.

Results: The meta-analysis indicated that LMWH prophylaxis comprised 79% of asymptomatic DVT. No association was found in symptomatic VTE (RR: 0.90; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.39-2.08; P = 0.80), symptomatic DVT (RR: 0.79; 95% CI: 0.28-2.23; P = 0.66), symptomatic PE (RR: 1.36; 95% CI: 0.37-4.97; P = 0.64) and major bleeding (RR: 0.70; 95% CI: 0.12-3.95; P = 0.68) risk during LMWH prophylaxis were identified. Death was not reported in these studies. Moreover, there was a lower incidence of minor bleeding (RR: 0.64; 95% CI: 0.49 to 0.83; P = 0.001) in the control group than in the LMWH group.

Conclusion: Compared with the control group, the group treated with LMWH after knee arthroscopy was no association in reducing the symptomatic VTE rate, symptomatic DVT rate or symptomatic PE rate. The symptomatic VTE rate was 0.5% (11/2,166) in the LMWH group versus 0.6% (10/1,713) in the control group. Although the limitations of this meta-analysis cannot be ignored, the results of our study show that LMWH after knee arthroscopy is ineffective. We recommend that LMWH should not be routinely provided for knee arthroscopy.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03164746.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arthroscopy / adverse effects*
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight / adverse effects*
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Knee / surgery*
  • Safety*
  • Venous Thromboembolism / etiology
  • Venous Thromboembolism / prevention & control


  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03164746

Grant support

This work was supported by grants from National Natural Science Foundation of China (No.81560356), The Science Foundation of Guizhou Province (No.(2015) 3044), The Science and Technology Foundation of Guizhou Province (No.(2015) 2089,No.gzwjkj2018-1-040).