In this Cochrane meta-analysis, researchers analyzed the overall efficacy and safety of direct thrombin inhibitors, compared to warfarin or LMWH, in preventing VTE after orthopedic surgeries (hip and knee arthroplasty). In14 studies involving over 20,000 participants, they found no difference in efficacy between direct thrombin inhibitors, warfarin, or LMWH, but did find higher mortality and bleeding in the thrombin group compared to LMWH (but no difference between the thrombin group and warfarin) (abstract). The timing of the thrombin inhibitors also matters, as pre-operative dosing results in fewer VTE’s but likely higher bleeding. Dabigatran is the oral direct thrombin inhibitor that is currently approved in Canada and throughout Europe, but US FDA approval is pending.
Dr. Scheurer is a clinical hospitalist and the Medical Director of Quality and Safety at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina, and is Assistant Professor of Medicine. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, completed her residency at Duke University, and completed her Masters in Clinical Research at the Medical University of South Carolina. She also serves as the Web Editor and Physician Advisor for the Society of Hospital Medicine.