Ximelagatran versus Warfarin for the Prevention of Venous Thromboembolism after Total Knee Arthroplasty
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BACKGROUND: Warfarin is used for prophylaxis of venous thromboembolism in patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty. However, it is associated with rates of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) of approximately 38% to 55% and requires routine coagulation monitoring and frequent dose adjustment. Ximelagatran, an oral direct thrombin inhibitor, has shown promising efficacy and tolerability in patients undergoing total hip or knee arthroplasty. OBJECTIVE: To compare the efficacy and safety of ximelagatran and warfarin for prophylaxis of venous thromboembolism after total knee arthroplasty. DESIGN: Randomized, double-blind, parallel-group trial. SETTING: 74 North American hospitals. PATIENTS: 680 patients who had undergone total knee arthroplasty. INTERVENTION: 7 to 12 days of treatment with oral ximelagatran, 24 mg twice daily, starting on the morning after surgery, or warfarin (target international normalized ratio, 2.5 [range, 1.8 to 3.0]), starting on the evening of the day of surgery. MEASUREMENTS: Principal end points were asymptomatic DVT on mandatory venography; symptomatic DVT confirmed by ultrasonography or venography; symptomatic, objectively proven pulmonary embolism; and bleeding. All were assessed by blinded adjudication locally and at a central study laboratory. RESULTS: On central adjudication, incidence of venous thromboembolism was 19.2% (53 of 276 patients) in the ximelagatran group and 25.7% (67 of 261 patients) in the warfarin group (difference, -6.5 percentage points [95% CI, -13.5 to 0.6 percentage points]; P = 0.070). On local assessment, incidence was 25.4% in the ximelagatran group and 33.5% in the warfarin group (P = 0.043). In the ximelagatran and warfarin groups, respectively, major bleeding occurred in 1.7% and 0.9% of patients and minor bleeding occurred in 7.8% and 6.4% of patients. No variables related to bleeding differed significantly between the two groups. CONCLUSIONS: For prophylaxis of venous thromboembolism, fixed-dose ximelagatran started the morning after total knee arthroplasty is well tolerated and at least as effective as warfarin, but it does not require coagulation monitoring or dose adjustment.
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