Preventing Post-Operative “Blood Clots”

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The general public knows pulmonary emboli as “blood clots to the lungs”. This rare occurrence starts with venous blood clotting in the legs or pelvic region. The clotted blood then can travel to the lungs where it can affect a significant portion of the lungs ability to oxygenate the body. There are multiple causes for this condition and one of them is the resting time of the body, which occurs during long surgeries and the post operative period.

Aside from underlying history and pathology of recognized individuals at risk, there are steps that can be taken for the much more common normal, healthy person to limit this risk.

Intra-operatively the patient is placed in a comfortable position with major joints such as knees and hips slightly bent to prevent venous stretch; and compression garments are placed usually over the lower legs that cyclically compress the lower leg muscles as if the person was actually walking.

Post op I always recommend early movement; as soon as it is clinically possible. That means, at home, going to the kitchen to get your own glass of water. Wearing knee high compressive stockings until full ambulation is possible is encouraged. Staying hydrated is also very important. All other medically recognized relevant issues aside, positive attitude and mobility are most important in a uneventful and quick recovery.

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