Death and thromboembolic disease after total hip replacement. A series of 1162 cases with no routine chemical prophylaxis

J Bone Joint Surg Br. 1995 Jan;77(1):6-10.


We studied 1162 consecutive total hip replacements (THR) to establish the incidence of fatal pulmonary embolism (PE), clinical non-fatal PE and deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) in the six months after surgery. Chemical thromboprophylaxis had not been routinely used. We used a validated questionnaire supplemented by post-mortem records and a review of the clinical notes. Follow-up was 100%. The death rate from PE was 0.34% (95% CI 0.09 to 0.88), with one fatal PE after discharge 40 days after operation. The clinical PE rate confirmed by imaging was 1.20% (CI 0.65 to 2.02), with 0.7% of patients readmitted. The venographically-confirmed clinical DVT rate was 1.89% (CI 1.11 to 2.76), with 1.13% readmitted. The total thromboembolic morbidity was 3.4% (95% CI 2.5% to 4.7%); prophylaxis to reduce this would be justifiable if the complications of such prophylaxis did not produce an alternative morbidity. The fatal PE rate after THR without routine chemical prophylaxis was low; a very large randomised clinical trial would be required to demonstrate directly whether any prophylactic measure could reduce this. There is a large discrepancy between the high DVT rate reported in clinical trials using universal screening venography and the symptomatic DVT rate shown in this study. We found insufficient evidence to recommend continuing thromboprophylaxis after discharge from hospital.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Bandages
  • Cohort Studies
  • England / epidemiology
  • Hip Prosthesis / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Phlebography
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pulmonary Embolism / epidemiology
  • Pulmonary Embolism / mortality*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survival Rate
  • Thromboembolism / epidemiology*
  • Thromboembolism / mortality
  • Thromboembolism / prevention & control
  • Thrombophlebitis / diagnostic imaging
  • Thrombophlebitis / epidemiology
  • Thrombophlebitis / prevention & control


  • Anticoagulants