Deep Venous Thrombosis Prophylaxis in Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstructive Surgery: What Is the Current State of Practice?

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Abstract

Background:

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a significant perioperative risk with many common orthopaedic procedures. Currently, there is no standardized recommendation for the use of VTE prophylaxis during anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. This study sought to evaluate the current prophylactic practices of fellowship-trained sports medicine orthopaedic surgeons in the United States.

Hypothesis:

Very few surgeons use perioperative VTE prophylaxis for ACL reconstructive surgery.

Study Design:

Survey.

Methods:

Surveys were emailed to the alumni networks of 4 large ACGME-accredited sports medicine fellowship programs. Questions were focused on their current use of chemical and nonchemical VTE prophylaxis.

Results:

Surveys were completed by 142 surgeons in the United States, yielding a response rate of 32%. Of those who responded, 50.7% stated that they routinely use chemical prophylaxis, with 95.5% of those using aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid [ASA]). There was no standardized dosing protocol, with respondents using ASA 325 mg once (46%) or twice daily (26%) or ASA 81 mg once (18%) or twice (10%) daily. The most common reason for not including chemical prophylaxis within the reconstruction procedure was that it is unnecessary given the low risk of VTE. Physicians also based their prophylaxis regimen more on their own clinical experience than concern for litigation.

Conclusion:

Half of all sports medicine fellowship–trained surgeons surveyed routinely use chemical VTE prophylaxis after ACL reconstruction, with more than 90% of those using ASA. Of those using ASA, there was no prevailing dosing protocol. For those not using chemical prophylaxis, the most important reason was that it was felt to be unnecessary due to the risks outweighing the benefits. Those who do not regularly use chemical prophylaxis would be willing to, however, if a patient had a personal or family history of clotting disorder or is currently on birth control. Additionally, clinical experience was the primary driver for a current prophylaxis protocol.

Clinical Relevance:

This survey study evaluating the use of VTE prophylaxis with ACL reconstruction lends clinical insight to the current practice of a large, geographically diverse group of fellowship-trained sports medicine orthopaedic surgeons in the United States.

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