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The effect of aspirin and low-molecular-weight heparin on venous thromboembolism after knee replacement

A non-randomised comparison using National Joint Registry Data

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We compared thromboembolic events, major haemorrhage and death after knee replacement in patients receiving either aspirin or low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH). Data from the National Joint Registry for England and Wales were linked to an administrative database of hospital admissions in the English National Health Service. A total of 156 798 patients between April 2003 and September 2008 were included and followed for 90 days. Multivariable risk modelling was used to estimate odds ratios adjusted for baseline risk factors (AOR). An AOR < 1 indicates that risk rates are lower with LMWH than with aspirin. In all, 36 159 patients (23.1%) were prescribed aspirin and 120 639 patients (76.9%) were prescribed LMWH. We found no statistically significant differences between the aspirin and LMWH groups in the rate of pulmonary embolism (0.49% vs 0.45%, AOR 0.88 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.74 to 1.05); p = 0.16), 90-day mortality (0.39% vs 0.45%, AOR 1.13 (95% CI 0.94 to 1.37); p = 0.19) or major haemorrhage (0.37% vs 0.39%, AOR 1.01 (95% CI 0.83 to 1.22); p = 0.94). There was a significantly greater likelihood of needing to return to theatre in the aspirin group (0.26% vs 0.19%, AOR 0.73 (95% CI 0.58 to 0.94); p = 0.01). Between patients receiving LMWH or aspirin there was only a small difference in the risk of pulmonary embolism, 90-day mortality and major haemorrhage.

These results should be considered when the existing guidelines for thromboprophylaxis after knee replacement are reviewed.

Correspondence should be sent to Mr S. S. Jameson; e-mail:

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