What You Should Know About Post-Op Blood Clots

What You Should Know About Post-Op Blood Clots

When you need surgery, there are always some risks involved. One of the main risks of orthopaedic surgery is blood clots in the post-op period.

Not everyone experiences this issue, but it’s something you should be aware of before and after your procedure. Knowing the symptoms helps you detect a problem early. 

At Orthopaedic Specialists, our team thoroughly understands the risk of blood clots after surgery. Dr. Brandon Downs is our orthopaedic specialist who gives you the tools to prevent a blood clot after you’ve had a procedure.

What is a blood clot?

Your blood flows freely through your arteries and veins, traveling to and from your heart to oxygenate your body. However, after surgery, you could end up with a deep vein thrombosis, or DVT — a blood clot that most often occurs in your legs.

Your blood clots when you get cut or are bleeding somewhere. This is normal except when it happens inside one of your blood vessels, which causes blockage in that vesselleading to pain and other symptoms.

But that’s not the only bad part of a DVT. Sometimes, the clot can break off and travel to your lungs, causing another type of clot called a pulmonary embolism (PE). A PE is very dangerous, as it cuts off blood flow to your lungs. It’s a life-threatening emergency that needs to get treated quickly.

Who is at risk for blood clots?

Anytime you’re immobilized for a period, especially during surgery, you’re at risk for blood clots. Extended hospital stays where you’re confined to a bed also increases risk. 

Major surgery, especially orthopaedic surgery, increases your chances of developing a blood clot. However, other factors play into your risk as well, including:

If you have a clotting disorder or a medical condition that affects your veins and blood vessels, you also have a higher risk of developing a clot in your legs or lungs after surgery.

Symptoms of a post-op blood clot

After surgery, it’s necessary to understand the warning signs of a blood clot. This helps you detect one early on before it has the chance to break off and become a pulmonary embolism. 

There are specific symptoms of a DVT and PE. The symptoms related to a clot in your legs include:

If your DVT doesn’t signal a problem for some reason, you could end up with a pulmonary embolism, which leads to other symptoms related to your lungs, including:

A pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency. If you experience any of the above symptoms after having surgery, it’s vital to go to the nearest emergency room. A pulmonary embolism can quickly become a life-threatening situation if not treated immediately.

Preventing a post-op blood clot

Not all post-op blood clots can be prevented, but there are steps to decrease your risk of this complication. Dr. Downs and his team provide you with prevention strategies before surgery, including:

If you’re at a higher risk for blood clots following surgery, Dr. Downs may have you take aspirin or other blood thinners after your procedure to reduce the risk of your blood thickening and causing a clot.

Staying well-hydrated during the post-op period is also essential, as it helps thin out your blood. Make sure to drink plenty of water and take all your prescribed medications to keep your blood moving.

If you’re concerned about a blood clot after surgery, contact Orthopaedic Specialists by calling one of our convenient locations in Nashville, Tennessee, or requesting an appointment on our website.

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