Anticoagulation in Elective Surgery

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Several categories of patients may be receiving anticoagulation therapy and require surgery. Many patients take cardioprotective aspirin or warfarin for atrial fibrillation, the presence of a mechanical heart valve, prior thromboembolism, a documented left ventricular thrombus, or a history of venous thromboembolism with or without a pulmonary embolism. Inpatients may be receiving injectable forms of anticoagulation to reduce risk of deep venous thrombosis or for other conditions, such as atrial fibrillation. Patients receiving any type of anticoagulation present a problem when they require surgery because the interruption of anticoagulant therapy increases their risk of thromboembolism and stroke (Schanbacher & Bennett, 2000). Rational decisions regarding the appropriateness of perioperative anticoagulation depend on individual patient factors and can only be made when the risk of perioperative thromboembolism is balanced against the risk of perioperative bleeding.

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