Pulmonary Emboli Frequent After Knee Surgery
Written by Editor   
Sunday, September 11, 2016 12:00 AM

Patients who experience tachycardia -- either symptomatic or asymptomatic -- following knee replacement surgery are most likely to trigger an imaging examination to determine if the patient has pulmonary emboli, researchers suggest.

The study also showed that knee surgery patients were most likely to be diagnosed with pulmonary embolism, with just 22% of these complications observed among hip replacement surgeries.  If you had knee surgery and all of a sudden you have shortness of breath, there is a very good chance you have a pulmonary embolism. 

In a study of 457 patients who underwent computed tomography (CT) scans, 60.3% had a diagnosis of tachycardia that created an order for the imaging study.  Knee replacement procedures were observed to have the highest incidence of positive scans -- 56.2%. That represented 41 of the 73 patients who had positive scans. Hip replacement surgery was the second most common incidence of positive scans, with 21.9%. Spine procedures were third, with 13.7% testing positive. The remaining 8.2% of post-procedure pulmonary emboli were observed in upper extremity and foot and ankle procedures.

All patients undergoing total hip and total knee replacement also received pharmacological anti-coagulation with warfarin, low-molecular-weight heparin, or aspirin in accordance with the standard protocol for DVT prophylaxis at his institution. Arthroscopy, foot, ankle, and hand patients were not given anticoagulation therapy. 

Treat these signs with urgency; pulmonary embolism can be fatal.

Source:  http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/ATS/58013