Patients undergoing total joint arthroplasty (TJA) are at risk of developing venous thromboembolism (VTE) without adequate prophylaxis. Since the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons issued guidelines in 2007 recommending aspirin 325 mg bis in die for 6 weeks, aspirin has been favored as the main VTE prophylaxis. However, the appropriate dose and duration of aspirin are not well-studied. This systematic review aims to identify any differences between high and low dose as well as duration for aspirin thromboprophylaxis after TJA as outlined by previous studies.

A search was performed using Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PubMed, including articles up to July 2016. Studies were included if they contained at least 1 cohort that underwent TJA with aspirin as the sole chemoprophylaxis and reported either (1) symptomatic VTE or (2) secondary outcomes such as major bleeding or 90-day mortality.

Forty-five papers were included. There were no significant differences in symptomatic pulmonary embolism, symptomatic deep vein thrombosis, 90-day mortality, or major bleeding between patients receiving low-dose or high-dose aspirin. Patients treated with aspirin for < 4 weeks had a higher risk of major bleeding (1.59%) vs patients treated for 4 weeks (0.15%), which may be attributed to premature cessation or differential reporting. Patients treated with aspirin for < 4 weeks had a statistically higher 90-day mortality (1.95%) vs patients treated for 4 weeks (0.07%). There was no significant difference between incidence of pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis and the durations of aspirin treatment.

This review suggests that low-dose aspirin is not inferior to high-dose aspirin for VTE thromboprophylaxis in TJA patients. Additionally, patients treated with aspirin for less than 4 weeks may have a higher risk of major bleeding and 90-day mortality compared to patients treated for a longer duration.

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