Blood Clot and Shoulder Replacement: Should I Be Worried?

SaveSave

When you have a shoulder replacement with me, my goal is to minimize the risks associated with surgery. One of the risks I routinely mention to my patients when I discuss shoulder replacement surgery is DVT, or deep vein thrombosis and more commonly known as blood clot. A variety of factors after surgery combined with inactivity can increase the risk that blood will clot in the legs, or sometimes, the arm. If that clot travels through the veins to the lungs, it is known as a pulmonary embolus, or PE.

The incidence of blood clot has been described after shoulder replacement. However, the risk of symptomatic DVT is very low, and the risk of the more serious pulmonary embolism is quite rare.

The incidence of blood clots can be reduced by actions you and your surgeon can take:

            1.Start walking around the next day at the hospital (mobilization)

2. Wearing compression stockings  

3. Using sequential compression devices

4. Using medication to thin the blood.

I will screen my patients for conditions that increase risk of blood clot, to ensure no additional measures are required. After shoulder replacement surgery, I will routinely use all of the above methods. It is my routine to send my patients home on aspirin, unless they have already been on a blood thinner or have a contraindication to aspirin (reason they should not take aspirin).  I do not typically use stronger blood thinners, as their use must be balanced against the risk of bleeding complications.

Please be sure to mention if you have a strong history of blood clots after surgery or a medical condition that substantially increases your risk.