Bilateral vs. ipsilateral venography as the primary efficacy outcome measure in thromboprophylaxis clinical trials: a systematic review
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Contrast venography, in combination with symptomatic venous thromboembolism (VTE), is the standard efficacy outcome measure in clinical trials of thromboprophylaxis in major orthopedic surgery. It is uncertain whether performing bilateral venography offers any real advantage over venography of the operated leg alone. This study was undertaken to determine the risk of isolated contralateral deep vein thrombosis (DVT) following major orthopedic surgery and to evaluate whether bilateral venography, rather than venography on the operated leg alone, offers any gain in DVT detection and, thereby, improves efficiency in clinical study design. A systematic review of prospective studies that reported DVT incidence as the primary efficacy outcome based on mandatory bilateral venography in patients undergoing elective hip or knee arthroplasty or hip fracture repair was conducted. Based on the use of bilateral venography as a primary efficacy outcome measure, the incidence of any DVT is 16.7% following total hip replacement, 18.8% after hip fracture repair, and 33.8% after total knee replacement. While DVT risk in the operated leg varies depending on the type of surgery, the risk of isolated DVT in the non-operated leg is approximately 4% to 5% in all three procedures. By increasing the detection of any DVT, the use of bilateral venography reduces required sample size by 16% to 25% compared to ipsilateral venography. In clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of thromboprophylaxis in major orthopedic surgery, bilateral venography reduces the risk of undiagnosed DVT in the non-operated leg and improves the efficiency of study design by substantially reducing the sample size requirement.
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