What is the postoperative management of perioperative anticoagulation in patients with recent venous thromboembolism (VTE)?

Updated: May 08, 2018
  • Author: Brian J Daley, MD, MBA, FACS, FCCP, CNSC; Chief Editor: William A Schwer, MD  more...
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If the patient had an episode of VTE within 3 months before surgery, intravenous UFH is recommended until the INR is greater than or equal to 2. Patients who have a vena caval filter are protected from pulmonary embolism, and intravenous heparin can be avoided in their early postoperative period. If no previous episodes of VTE occurred within 3 months, postoperative intravenous heparin is not indicated. Subcutaneous heparin is recommended.

Madura et al recommend discontinuing Coumadin 5 days before surgery and beginning intravenous heparin at 1000 U/h, while adjusting to maintain the aPTT at therapeutic levels. [17] Heparin is discontinued 6-12 hours before surgery and restarted at 200-400 U/h at 4-6 hours after surgery. Coumadin is restarted as soon as tolerated by the patient.

Stop oral anticoagulants at least 5 days preoperatively, and do not perform the procedure until the PT is in the reference range. Substitute intravenous heparin infusion for oral anticoagulant therapy preoperatively to prevent thromboembolic complications in the perioperative period. Stop the intravenous heparin infusion 6-12 hours preoperatively to allow the aPTT to return to normal for adequate intraoperative hemostasis. Restart the intravenous heparin infusion within 6 hours of completion of the surgical procedure to prevent postoperative thromboembolism. Resume oral Coumadin therapy as soon as the patient is able to tolerate oral liquids. Do not release the patient until the PT is once again in the therapeutic range.

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