Hip and knee arthroplasty patients are at high risk of perioperative venous thromboembolic events (VTE). VTE has been well studied in this population and it is recommended that total joint arthroplasty recipients receive chemoprophylactic anticoagulation due to risk factors inherent to the surgical intervention. There are few concise resources for the orthopedic surgeon that summarize data regarding post-operative anticoagulation in the context of currently available therapeutic options and perioperative standards of practice. The periodic reexamination of literature is essential as conclusions drawn from studies predating perioperative protocols that include early mobilization and sequential compression devices as standards of practice in total joint arthroplasty are no longer generalizable to modern-day practice. We reviewed a large number of recently published research studies related to post-operative anticoagulation in total joint arthroplasty populations that received a high Level of Evidence grade. Current literature supports the use of oral aspirin regimens in place of more aggressive anticoagulants, particularly among low risk patients. Oral aspirin regimens appear to have the additional benefit of lower rates of bleeding and wound complications. Less consensus exists among high risk patients and more potent anticoagulants may be indicated. However, available evidence does not demonstrate clear superiority among current options, all of which may place patients at a higher risk of bleeding and wound complications. In this situation, chemoprophylactic selection should reflect specific patient needs and characteristics.
Keywords: VTE; novel oral anticoagulation (NOAC); prophylaxis; total joint arthroplasty.