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Risk of post-surgical blood clots higher than thought

By Mark Pownall

The risk of having a post-surgical blood clot is far higher, and lasts for longer, than previous evidence suggested.

A UK analysis of nearly 950,000 women found the risk of a clot was 10 times higher the first day after surgery than women who not having surgery.

But that risk rose to 70 times higher at the end of the first six weeks after surgery. The risks were lower but still substantially increased – by 20 times – 7-12 weeks after surgery.

Dr Jane Green, co-author and clinical epidemiologist at the University of Oxford, called for NICE guidelines for the prophylaxis of venous thromboembolism, which recommends inpatient prophylaxis only for most patients and up to four weeks post-operatively to be updated.

‘There is a substantially increased risk of VTE after many different types of surgery that lasts for up to 12 weeks postoperatively.'

British Medical Journal, published online 3 December 2009

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