Saturday, August 13, 2011

Knee arthroscopy and Blood Clots: The Risks are Minimal

“Knee arthroscopy is the most commonly performed orthopedic procedure in the United States,” explained Diane L. Dahm, MD, at the annual meeting of the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine. 


 Dr. Dahm and her colleagues conducted a case-matched, retrospective review of knee arthroscopies performed at a single institution over a 20-year period. They examined the records of 12,595 patients who underwent knee arthroscopy between 1988 and 2008. Overall, they identified 43 cases of symptomatic blood clots —35 cases of leg vein clots, 5 cases of lung clots, and 3 cases of leg clots that progressed to lung clots. The overall incidence of all blood clots was 3 1/2 cases per 1,000 arthroscopic surgery cases, or 0.34 percent, which is quite low.  Serious lung clots only occurred in 1 in 1,500 cases.


Risk factors for the development of blood clots after knee arthroscopy include a history of cancer or prior blood clot or the presence of two or more of the following: age older than 65 years, Obesity, smoking, oral contraceptive or hormone replacement use, and chronic venous insufficiency.  


This study shows that arthroscopy is a safe procedure and  in most cases it is not necessary to use medication to prophylatically to protect against blood clots after knee arthroscopy.  




Photo showing Patient positioned in operating room for knee arthroscopy, surgical leg in leg holder and healthy leg supported on cushion and using a sequential compression pump.  These techniques employed by Dr. Tarlow can help lower the risk of blood clots.

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