Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is one of the most common postoperative complications and prophylaxis (prevention) is the most effective strategy to reduce complications and/or death. VTE is a condition where a blood clot (thrombus) forms in a vein. This clot can limit blood flow causing swelling, redness and pain. Most commonly, clots occur in the legs, thighs, or pelvis. If a part, or all, of the clot breaks off from where it was formed, it can travel through the veins. The part that breaks off is called an em bolus. If the em bolus lodges in the lung, it is called a pulmonary embolism, a serious condition that can cause death.
Why this is important:
Certain types of surgery can increase the risk of blood clots forming in the veins because the patient doesn't move much during and, usually, after some surgeries. A number of factors can increase a patient's risk of developing blood clots, but a doctor can order a prophylaxis to reduce the risk. Prophylaxis may include blood-thinning medications, elastic support stockings, or mechanical air stockings that promote circulation in the legs.
The chart above indicates how often surgery patients' doctors ordered treatment to prevent blood clots from forming in the veins after certain surgeries.