The use of antifibrinolytic medications in hip and knee arthroplasty reduces intraoperative blood loss and decreases transfusion rates postoperatively. Tranexamic acid (TXA) specifically has not been associated with increased thromboembolic (TE) complications, but concerns remain about the risk of symptomatic TE events, particularly when less aggressive chemical prophylaxis methods such as aspirin alone are chosen.
We determined whether the rate of symptomatic TE events differed among patients given intraoperative TXA when three different postoperative prophylactic regimens were used after primary THA and TKA.
We retrospectively reviewed 2046 patients who underwent primary THA or TKA and received TXA from 2007 to 2009. The three chemical regimens included aspirin alone, warfarin (target international normalized ratio, 1.8-2.2), and dalteparin. Primary outcome measures were venous TE events, including symptomatic deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE), and arterioocclusive events, including myocardial infarction and cerebrovascular accident. Patients judged to be at high risk for TE due to recent cardiac stent placement or strong personal/family history of TE disease were excluded.
For aspirin, warfarin, and dalteparin, the rates of symptomatic DVT (0.35%, 0.15%, and 0.52%, respectively) and nonfatal PE were similar (0.17%, 0.43%, and 0.26%, respectively). There were no fatal PE. Among the three groups, we found no difference in the rates of symptomatic DVT or PE with or without stratification by ASA score.
A low complication rate was seen when using TXA as a blood conservation modality during primary THA and TKA with less aggressive thromboprophylactic regimens such as aspirin alone and dose-adjusted warfarin.