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The importance of anticoagulant treatment

Following your operation, the surgeon prescribed anticoagulants. The main reason for  this treatment is the following: it allows you to prevent a possible major complication following the operation which is venous thrombosis. 

It is important to follow the recommendations to the letter. Depending on the surgeon and the type of operation, the duration and dosage of treatment  may differ. The duration of treatment following a hip replacement is often longer than that of the knee. 

Venous thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot that blocks a vein. When the clot breaks off and migrates to the arteries of the lungs, it is called a pulmonary  thromboembolism or pulmonary embolism. This is a major complication. 

Venous thrombosis is a rare but serious complication after hip or knee replacement surgery. Patients who have undergone lower limb replacement surgery are at higher risk of blood clots because of the following factors : 

  • Prolonged duration of surgery 
  • Soft tissue injury 
  • Decreased mobilization following surgery 
  • Decreased support on the operated leg 

If you do not follow any prophylactic treatment, this risk of complication becomes  important. This is why it is essential to follow such a treatment after such an operation and to follow the indicated treatment duration. Indeed, this risk remains major during the first month after the operation. 

This clot can form either in the superficial veins or in the deep veins of the lower limbs. The role of the superficial veins is to send the blood to the deepest veins which then bring the blood back to the heart. These veins are located between the muscles of the leg. 

In light blue are represented the superficial veins & in dark blue are represented the deep veins.

The following elements allow you to detect the signs of a superficial venous thrombosis  : 

  • A red & painful area in the leg, often in the calf  
  • The pain may be felt throughout the leg  

The warning signs of a deep thrombosis are :   

  • A swelling  
  • A feeling of heavy legs   
  • A feeling of heat  
  • A red, tense area, which may also be bluish in color   
  • Pain in the foot, calf or back of the knee that is relieved when the leg is elevated  

If the clot were to migrate and create a thromboembolism, the symptoms would depend on the size of the clot. If it is small, it may not cause any symptoms or it may cause slight shortness of breath. The larger it is, the more significant the symptoms are and the more similar to the following :   

  • Acute respiratory distress  
  • Pain in the respiratory system  
  • Feeling of tightness in the chest 
  • Coughing (coughing with blood)  
  • Shock  

If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor urgently !   

As explained earlier, the most optimal way to prevent thrombosis is to take the right medication at the right dose. Another important part of this prevention is to perform mobilization exercises of the lower limbs. By moving, you are stimulating blood circulation in your lower limbs.

As a reminder, the veins are located between the muscles. The contraction of the muscles helps the blood flow back to the heart.

Here is a list of exercises that you can find in the “Exercises” tab of the application :

For more information, please visit the Thrombosis care website: https://www.thrombosiscare.be/ or the related Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCghWewLJK1SML6-C8AVnP3g 

Updated on April 21, 2021

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