If you are undergoing a knee or hip replacement procedure, we want you to be aware of the entire process, including what to expect before, during, and after your surgical procedure. Patients are often shocked to hear their physician ask, just hours post-surgery, for them to get out of bed and take a walk. This, I assure you, is for a very good reason, and that reason is the prevention of blood clots.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), or the formation of a blood clot, is a serious post-surgery complication. Blood clots can form in the lower extremities due to excess swelling, debris in the veins, and immobilization- basically all things that occur with hip or knee replacement surgery. Blood clots can block the flow of blood to the immediate and surrounding areas causing local damage or, they can dislodge travelling to other parts of the body including the heart or lungs causing very serious complications including heart attack, stroke, or death.
How Does this Effect You and Your Post-Surgery Experience?
Following your hip or knee replacement surgery, ensuring that blood continue to flow properly returning it quickly and effectively back to the heart is essential in the prevention of blood clots. You can expect your physician to take one or more of the following steps to reduce your risk including:
- Mechanical prophylaxis: a pneumatic pump to compress the foot and/or leg aiding in blood return
- Chemical prophylaxis: Xarelto, Aspirin, etc. to thin the blood
- Getting you out of bed, on your feet, and walking
Understanding Your Risk:
While anyone can develop a post-surgery blood clot, there are certain risk factors which may increase the possibility of developing a clot such as:
- Advanced age
- Varicose veins
- Estrogen therapy
- Factor 5 deficiency
- Genetic predisposition
It may seem counter intuitive, or even downright cruel, to get you on your feet following these particular procedures, however, we assure you it is for your benefit. Blood clots are a very real, and very serious, post-surgical risk. Once you develop a blood clot, you are more likely to develop them again in the future; taking proper measures to prevent them now can have an impact on your present and future health. Your healthcare team is committed to your safety, and that means getting you moving as soon as possible post-surgery.