- Published: 09 February 2017
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Following surgeries like hip replacement, knee replacement, or any other type of surgery that involves the lower extremities, the development of blood clots become of special concern. One type of blood clot is called a DVT, which stands for Deep Vein Thrombosis. A DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, most commonly in the calf and/or thigh. Another type of blood clot is a Pulmonary Embolism (also called a PE), which is a blood clot that breaks free from somewhere in the body and travels through veins. If the clot should happen to reach the lungs, it can block blood flow them and the heart. A pulmonary embolism is an extremely serious condition that can have dire consequences.
This is why, following your surgery, your orthopaedic surgeon and physical and occupational therapist(s) many have you do certain things like wear compression stockings (TED hose) on your legs to aid with circulation and to prevent blood from pooling in your lower extremities. They will also have you do certain feet/legs exercises and movements following surgery to help encourage good circulation. Your doctor may also prescribe a blood thinner (medication) that you’ll need to take for a certain amount of time post-surgery. There are many different types of blood thinners on the market today, and your surgeon will make the decision as to which one will work best for your particular situation.
It’s extremely important to follow your post-surgical instructions so that you can minimize your risk of blood clots as much as possible. Warning signs of DVT formation include pain in the calf and leg that is unrelated to an incision, tenderness and/or redness around or below the knee, and swelling of the thigh, calf, ankle, and/or foot. Shortness of breath and chest pain, especially when breathing, are both warning signs of a potential pulmonary embolism. Should you experience any of the above symptoms, notify your physician immediately. If shortness of breath and/or chest pain is involved, please proceed to your nearest emergency department or call 911 if you feel it’s needed.
At Lincoln Orthopaedic Center, we want to make sure that our patients receive the best, most advanced care available with as few side effects and complications as possible. Being able to provide comprehensive education to our patients and caregivers on ways that they can aid in their healing process and help to prevent complications is one of the many ways that we’re able to accomplish those goals.