120 – Does the type of VTE prophylaxis influence the risk of subsequent periprosthetic joint infection in patients undergoing joint arthroplasty?

120 – Does the type of VTE prophylaxis influence the risk of subsequent periprosthetic joint infection in patients undergoing joint arthroplasty?

Marjan Wouthuyzen-Bakker, Kresimir Crnogaca, Marc W. Nijhof.

Response/Recommendation: Yes, the type of venous thromboembolism (VTE) prophylaxis influences the risk of subsequent periprosthetic joint infection (PJI). The strongest association is observed for vitamin K antagonists (VKA) when compared to acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin [ASA]).

Strength of Recommendation: Moderate.

Rationale: Impaired hemostasis and bleeding in an arthroplasty wound, resulting in hematoma formation and persistent wound drainage, might favor bacterial growth and the subsequent development of PJI. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the risk to develop a PJI is influenced by the type of VTE prophylaxis used. We have conducted a literature search in PubMed and Embase according to the search strategy defined in the appendix. From the total of 107 articles, a final number of 23 articles met the predefined inclusion and exclusion criteria. The details of these studies are summarized in Table 1.

Most of the included studies compared the infection risk between low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) and direct oral anticoagulants (DOAC)1-10. The largest analysis has been performed by Jameson et al., a retrospective multicenter observational analysis in which the authors compared the incidence of several wound complications after total hip arthroplasty (THA) and total knee arthroplasty (TKA) in 12 hospitals in the United Kingdom before and after a change of VTE prophylaxis protocol from LMWH to rivaroxaban3. One of the primary endpoints of the study was deep infection in which early reoperation was necessary. A total of 13,123 patients were included in the study, in which the infection rate was 0.53% in the LMWH group and 0.62% in the rivaroxaban group (no significant difference [NS]). A major limitation of this study was the fact that it was not possible to discriminate between surgical wound irrigation for infection or hematoma. In addition, two randomized trials comparing LMWH and DOAC were performed, in which one was too small a sample size to detect any infection complication5. The other, performed by Lassen et al., in patients undergoing THA or TKA (RECORD programme), a post-operative wound infection rate of 0.27% in the LMWH group was observed compared to 0.16% in the rivaroxaban group (NS)6. No differences were observed between THA and TKA. Again, no clear definition was provided for post-operative wound infection. Figure 1A depicts a forest plot of all studies comparing LMWH with DOAC with respect to their risk of developing an infection. Only the studies in which the absolute numbers were depicted by the authors are included. The analyzed studies showed low heterogeneity, and no differences between both types of VTE prophylaxis were observed.

The second most common comparison has been made between ASA and VKA9-14. All of these studies were retrospective analyses. The study performed by Huang et al., was the only one that defined PJI according to the Musculoskeletal Infection Society (MSIS) criteria12. In this study, the authors divided patients into those with a high-risk (n = 4,898) versus low-risk for VTE (n = 22,751), and consistently demonstrated a significantly lower PJI incidence in the ASA groups vs. the VKA groups (Table 1), with a PJI incidence of 0.18 versus 1.26% of the total cohort, respectively. The studies of Cafri et al., and Singh et al., showed a clear trend towards a lower infection rate in the ASA group, but this difference was NS10,13. Tan et al., also reported a lower risk for PJI when using ASA, but absolute numbers in this study were not provided14. In the study from Agaba et al., analyzing different VTE agents9, warfarin, (VKA) was the only one significantly associated with the highest PJI risk, in particular in the early post-operative period, with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.44. An international normalized ratio (INR) greater than 1.5 was found to be more prevalent in patients who had post-operative wound complications and subsequent PJI19. Figure 1B depicts the forest plot of the three studies comparing ASA with VKA, including solely those studies in which the absolute numbers were depicted by the authors. With a high heterogeneity between studies, there was a significant difference observed in infection rate between the ASA and the VKA group in the pooled analysis. The dose of ASA (80 mg vs. 325 mg) does not seem to have any influence on the infection rate, either for THA or TKA when analyzed separately15-18.

Unfortunately, only a few studies have directly compared infection rates between LMWH vs. ASA. In a retrospective analysis, Agaba et al., evaluated different types of VTE prophylaxis in 72,670 patients undergoing THA9. Rivaroxaban (DOAC), ASA, enoxaparin (LMWH), and fondaparinux had a significant protective effect on the development of PJI within 90 days after the index surgery, with OR of 0.27, 0.34, 0.40, and 0.47, respectively. For another DOAC, apixaban, a protective effect was not observed. With overlapping confidence intervals, the PJI risk for LMWH versus ASA was not significantly different. The largest analysis in which LMWH was directly compared to ASA is the study of Tan et al.14. In this study, 60,467 primary and revision total joint arthroplasties were retrospectively evaluated. The use of ASA was associated with a significantly lower risk for PJI development compared to LMWH and VKA (both p < 0.001). For LMWH vs. VKA, the PJI rate was lower for the high-risk VTE group only (p < 0.001). Unfortunately, no absolute numbers on PJI rates per type of VTE prophylaxis were provided in this study.

In conclusion, based on the literature review, VKA seem to be associated with the highest, and ASA (at least when compared to VKA) with the lowest risk for PJI. For LMWH and DOAC, no significant difference in PJI risk could be identified. Important limitations of the reviewed articles were the lack of a clear and adequate definition for (deep) infection and/or PJI. In addition, few studies performed multivariate analyses in which it remains unclear whether the type of VTE prophylaxis is an independent predictor for PJI.

Figure 1A.      Forest plot. Depicting studies comparing LMWH with DOAC.

LMWH=Low-molecular-weight heparin; DOAC=Direct oral anticoagulants; C.I.=Confidence interval; PJI=Periprosthetic joint infection.

Figure 1B.      Forest plot. Depicting studies comparingASA with VKA.

ASA=Aspirin; VKA=Vitamin K antagonist; C.I.=Confidence interval; PJI=Periprosthetic joint infection.

Table 1.          Overview results selected studies.

AuthorYear JointVTE prophylaxis DoseDurationOutcomeInfection rate/oddsp-valueStudy design
Agaba et al.92017 HipASA (n = 551) enoxaparin (n = 6,791) warfarin (n = 12,008) rivaroxaban (n = 5,403) fondaparinux (n = 876) apixaban (n = 337)   ASA (n = 551) enoxaparin (n = 6,791) warfarin (n = 12,008) rivaroxaban (n = 5.403) fondaparinux (n = 876) apixaban (n = 337)NP             NP≤ 30 days             ≤ 30 days  PJI < 30 days1             PJI < 90 days1    OR 0.86 (0.54, 1.38) OR 0.53 (0.44, 0.65) OR 1.44 (1.26, 1.64) OR 0.36 (0.29, 0.46) OR 0.40 (0.24, 0.67) OR 1.58 (0.83, 3.01)   OR 0.47 (0.25, 0.88) OR 0.34 (0.27, 0.44) OR 1.17 (1.01, 1.34) OR 0.27 (0.20, 0.35) OR 0.40 (0.24, 0.67) OR 0.77 (0.31, 1.87)NP             NPRetrospective cohort             Retrospective cohort
Brimmo et al.202015 Hip, Knee  Rivaroxaban (n = 159) other (n = 480)210 – 20 mg OD  ≥ 2 weeksDeep SSI (≥ 2 cultures)2.5% 0.2%< 0.015Retrospective cohort
Cafri et al.102017 KneeASA (n = 5,124) enoxaparin (n=13,318) fondaparinux (n=3,225) warfarin (n=8,832)    325 mg OD 40 – 60 mg OD 2.5 mg OD INR goal 1.8 – 2.0NPSSI: deep infection or revision surgery for infection related reasons < 90 days index procedure0.39% / 1.00 0.39% / 0.90 (0.48 – 1.67) 0.41% / 0.84 (0.36 – 1.92) 0.46% / 0.80 (0.42 – 1.53)   (OR: vs. ASA)– 0.732 /0.148 0.674/ 0.172 0.500/ 0.089   (superiority /non-inferiority)Retrospective cohort
Chahal et al.12013 Hip, kneeEnoxaparin (n = 227)           rivaroxaban (n = 160)40 mg OD           10 mg OD6 weeks or stopped at discharge and continued on ASA   10 days for knees, 30 days for hipsInfection defined as returning to theatre < 12 months0.88%           1.88%NPComparison with retrospective cohort after change in protocol
Charters et al.22015 Hip, kneeEnoxaparin (n = 1,113)   rivaroxaban (n = 649)  30 mg BID for knees 40 mg OD for hips 10 mg OD for knees 10 mg OD for hips14 days 21 days 12 days 35 daysDeep infection requiring DAIR0.9%   0.9%0.99Comparison with retrospective cohort after change in protocol
Di Benedetto et al.212017 Hip  Rivaroxaban (n = 145) other (n = 60)3NP35 daysPJI < 4 weeks0% 0%1.00Retrospective cohort
Feldstein et al.152017 Hip, kneeASA 325 mg BID (n = 282) ASA 81 mg BID (n = 361)325 mg BID 81 mg BID1 monthPJI < 1 month  0% 0%1.00Prospective cohort
Glassberg et al.222019 Hip  Community insured warfarin (n = 12,876) rivaroxaban (n = 10,892)     Medicare warfarin (n = 7,416) rivaroxaban (n = 4,739)  NP NP       NP NP  No infoPJI < 90 days    0.88% 0.62% OR 1.57 (1.16, 2.13)     0.85% 0.49% OR 1.79, (1.14 – 2.81)  0.02         0.02Retrospective cohort
Huang et al.122016 All joints  ASA low risk (n = 4,102) warfarin low-risk (n = 18,649)   ASA high-risk (n = 796) warfarin high-risk (n = 6,723)   warfarin high-risk (n = 6,723)81 or 325 mg BID INR goal 1.8 -2.0   81 or 325 mg BID INR goal 1.8 – 2.0   INR goal 1.8 – 2.04 weeks postop 4 weeks postop   4 weeks postop 4 weeks postop   4 weeks postopPJI < 90 days (MSIS criteria)0.2% 1.1%   0.1% 1.7%   An OR 13.7 (1.9, 98.5)< 0.001     0.001Retrospective
Huang et al.11  2015   All joints  ASA (n = 1,456) warfarin (n = 1,700)   warfarin (n = 1,700)325 BID INR goal 1.8 – 2.0   INR goal 1.8 – 2.06 weeks postopPJI < 90 days0.4% 1.5%   An OR 2.77 (1.19, 6.45)< 0.001  Comparison with retrospective cohort after change in protocol
Jameson et al.32012 Hip, kneeLMWH (n = 10,361) rivaroxaban (n = 2,762)NP  14 days knees 21 days hipsSSI and PJI requiring return to surgery < 30 days0.53% 0.62%0.59Comparison with retrospective cohort after change in protocol
Jensen et al.42011 Hip, kneeLMWH (n = 489) rivaroxaban (n = 559)4500 U 10 mg OD28 days 14 days knees 28 days hipsDeep infection requiring DAIR < 30 days1.0% 2.5%0.10Comparison with retrospective cohort after change in protocol
Kim et al.52015 Hip  Rivaroxaban (n = 350) enoxaparin (n = 351) placebo (n = 185)10 mg OD 40 mg OD7 – 12 days postopPJI0% 0% 0%1.00Randomized trial
Kulshrestha et al.232013 KneeRoutine LMWH (n = 450) Risk stratification (ASA ± LMWH) (n = 450)40 mg OD   325 BID ± 40 mg OD  2 weeks postop   4 weeks postop ± 2 weeks postopPJI0.9%   0.2% Randomized trial
Lassen et al.62012 Hip, KneeRivaroxaban (n = 6,183) enoxaparin (n = 6,200)10 mg OD 40 mg OD or 30 mg BID10 – 40 daysWound-infection < 30 days0.16% 0.27% Randomized trial
Matharu et al.242020 Hip                 KneeASA ± LMWH (n = 28,049) direct thrombin inhibitor ± LMWH (n = 28,049)   ASA ± LMWH (n = 19,021) factor Xa inhibitor ± LMWH (n = 19,021)     ASA ± LMWH (n = 34,161) direct thrombin inhibitor ± LMWH (n = 34,161)   ASA ± LMWH (n = 25,114) factor Xa inhibitor ± LMWH (n = 25,114)NPNPSSI < 90 daysOR 1.04 (0.84, 1.28)       OR 0.91 (0.70, 1.17)         OR 1.09 (0.93, 1.27)       OR 0.91 (0.75, 1.11) Retrospective (national joint registry)
Parvizi et al.162017 Hip KneeASA 81 mg BID (n = 1,459) ASA 325 mg BID (n = 3,192)81 mg BID 325 mg BID4 weeksPJI < 90 days0.2% 0.5%0.28Prospective crossover study
Singh et al.132020 Hip, KneeASA 325 mg BID (n = 2,183) warfarin (n = 3,333)325 mg BID6 weeksPJI < 6 months1.4% 1.8%0.23Retrospective
Tan et al.142019 All joints4    LMWH (n = 17,554) warfarin (n = 29,303) ASA (13,610)NP INR goal 1.8 – 2.0 81 mg or 325 mg BID4 – 6 weeksPJI < 90 daysNo absolute numbers or % reported Retrospective
Tang et al.172020 Knee 5ASA (n = 435) ASA (n = 1,003)  81 mg BID 325 mg BID1 monthPJI < 90 days6  0.2%   0.6%0.36Retrospective
Tang et al.182020 Hip5  ASA (n = 388) ASA (n = 973)81 mg BID 325 mg BID1 monthPJI <90 days60.77% 1.2%0.46Retrospective
Yen et al.72014 KneeRivaroxaban (n = 61) enoxaparin (n = 52)10 mg once 20 mg BID2 weeksNeed for I&D < 90 days0% 0%1.00  Retrospective
Zou et al.82014 KneeRivaroxaban (n = 102) LMWH (n = 112) ASA 100 mg (n = 110)10 mg/day 0.4 ml/day 100 mg/day14 daysWound complications  < 4 weeks4.9% 2.7% 1.8%0.027, 0.014Prospective randomized controlled trial
  1. Based on ICD – 9 – CM codes 996.60, 996.66, 996.67, 998.6
  2. Other: 322 enoxaparin, 161 ASA, 33 warfarin
  3. Other: 25 fondaparinux, 19 warfarin/acenocumarol, 5 calciparin, 3 dabigatran, 8 nadroparin /enoxaparin.
  4. High-risk patients for VTE
  5. Revisions
  6. Acute PJI ICD – 9 (996.6) and ICD – 10 (T84.5)

ASA=Aspirin; n=Number; NP=not presented; PJI=Periprosthetic joint infection; OR=Odds ratio; OD=once daily; mg=milligrams; SSI=Surgical site infection; INR=International normalized ratio; BID=twice daily; DAIR=Debridement antibiotics implant retention; LMWH=Low-molecular-weight heparin; MSIS=Musculoskeletal infection society; U=Units; I&D=Incision and drainage.


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