Because of the body’s normal response to surgery and the reduction in activity that usually follows surgery, blood clot, or thrombus, formation can be a common complication. A thrombus is a blood clot that blocks a blood vessel and reduces blood flow. A thrombus can also dislodge and travel to other parts of the body, such as the heart, lungs, or brain, causing serious health problems.
Preventive or prophylactic steps can be taken to decrease the chance of developing a blood clot (thrombosis). The Joint Commission recommends that a venous thromboembolism (VTE) risk assessment be performed within 24 hours of admission to the hospital or intensive care unit. Treatment options should be evaluated for patients who are at high risk for a thrombus or VTE.
Effective venous thromboembolism prevention options include blood thinning medications, early mobilization and physical therapy, range-of-motion exercises, elastic stockings, and intermittent pneumatic compression devices (The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, September, 2005: 87-A; 2097-2112).