Department of Orthopaedics, Sahlgrenska University Hospital/Ostra, Gothenburg, Sweden. email@example.com
Patients who undergo orthopaedic surgery are at substantially increased risk for venous thromboembolic events. These include proximal and distal deep vein thrombosis, with the former more likely to lead to pulmonary embolism and fatal complications. Anticoagulants are routinely used for venous thromboembolism prophylaxis in patients undergoing total hip or total knee replacement surgery. Although current treatments offer effective prophylaxis, they have disadvantages. Warfarin is limited by the requirement for coagulation monitoring to ensure effective and safe use. Similarly, low-molecular-weight heparins (LMWHs) have disadvantages, including the need for parenteral administration. This article brings together data from clinical trials of the novel oral direct thrombin inhibitor, ximelagatran, in the prevention of venous thromboembolism in patients undergoing elective total hip or total knee replacement. The ximelagatran clinical trial programme in orthopaedic surgery has focused primarily on five large multicentre studies in Europe (the Melagatran Thromboprophylaxis in Orthopaedic surgery II and III and Expanded Prophylaxis Evaluation Surgery Study studies) and in the United States (the Exanta Used to Lessen Thrombosis A and B studies), which enrolled more than 8000 patients. In addition, the USA clinical trial programme included three other trials that investigated ximelagatran in orthopaedic surgery; two of these studies focused on prevention of venous thromboembolism after total knee replacement, and one study investigated prevention of venous thromboembolism after total hip replacement. These studies compared ximelagatran with the LMWHs dalteparin and enoxaparin and with warfarin, and were designed to reflect regional differences in venous thromboembolism prophylaxis and to build on findings from previous studies. Generally, ximelagatran has been shown to possess comparable or greater efficacy relative to comparators. The timing and dose of ximelagatran have been shown to be important determinants of its efficacy and safety. As ximelagatran can be given in fixed oral dosing without coagulation monitoring, it is an attractive choice for the prevention of venous thromboembolism in major elective orthopaedic surgery.
Drugs. 2004;64 Suppl 1:27-35.