Low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) is used in orthopaedic surgery largely for prophylaxis of venous thromboembolism (VTE). The purpose of this study was to review the available evidence to better define its role. The most recent American College of Chest Physicians Evidence-Based Practice guidelines for the most current recommendations for the application of LMWH to orthopaedic surgery are reviewed. A systematic review of the literature was undertaken using MEDLINE database and manual searches. The terms low molecular weight heparin, orthopaedic procedures, venous thromboembolism, and thromboprophylaxis were used as keywords. A total of 34 studies were identified, including prospective, randomised controlled clinical studies comparing LMWH with other treatment methods in orthopaedic surgery patients, meta-analysis and health economic related studies. There is clear supporting evidence for the application of LMWH for DVT prophylaxis in orthopaedic surgery. Although newer agents such as oral thrombin inhibitors are being developed for DVT prophylaxis, it will take some time to adequately assess the clinical efficacy, safety, and costeffectiveness of these newer agents. Whether these agents will ultimately supplant the widespread application of LMWH to orthopaedic surgery remains to be seen.
Keywords: Orthopaedic surgery, thromboprophylaxis, venous thromboembolism, low molecular weight heparin, unfractionated heparin (UFH), heparinase, anti-Xa, anti-IIa activity, LMWH, MEDLINE (OVID), lower extremity injury, pelvic, acetabular frac-tures, major trauma, THA, TKA, retrospective cohort study, multicentre trial, 4 meta-analyses, health economic-related, thrombocytopenia, placebo, unfractionated heparins, dextran, UFH, fatal pulmonary, proximal DVT, warfarin, low-dose hepa-rin, deep vein thrombosis, LMWH prophylaxis, NHS EED, enoxaparin led, VTE, ACCP, fondaparinux, normalised ratio, PE secondary, thrombosis, prophy-lactic, war-farin
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