Routine Preoperative Venous Doppler Screening Is Not Effective in Preventing Thromboembolic Events after Total Joint Arthroplasty

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Despite advances in thromboprophylaxis, the relationship between preexisting deep venous thromboses (DVTs) and postoperative thromboembolic complications is not fully established. The aim of this study was to assess the utility of selective and nonselective preoperative lower extremity venous Doppler screening protocols as tools in reducing the incidence of thromboembolic events (DVT/pulmonary embolism [PE]) after total joint arthroplasty. In the 2-year period from August 2013 to August 2015, a total of 455 consecutive elective primary total joint arthroplasties were identified from the authors' database. During the first year, a selective preoperative Doppler ultrasound screening protocol (only patients with a history of DVT/PE) was used for 182 patients, 31 of whom had preoperative ultrasound scans. The following year, a nonselective screening protocol was used for 273 consecutive patients, all of whom had preoperative Doppler ultrasound scans. All patients were followed for a minimum of 3 months postoperatively for postoperative Doppler ultrasound scans, emergency department visits, and readmissions related to DVT/PE. Preoperatively, there was no difference between the selective and nonselective cohorts regarding preoperative DVTs (3 and 1, respectively; P=.307); all patients were known to have prior DVT. Postoperative thromboembolic events were found in 4 (2.6%) of the patients in the selective cohort and 2 (0.7%) of the patients in the nonselective cohort (P=.196). Use of a nonselective preoperative Doppler ultrasound screening protocol did not improve the identification of preoperative DVTs or reduce postoperative thromboembolic complications.


This article was published in Orthopedics, Volume 41, Issue 2, pages e202-e206.

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