Understanding the Risk of Blood Clots After Surgery

Blood naturally has the ability to coagulate, or clot. This is what allows a laceration to stop bleeding. While these blood clots are helpful for the body, other blood clots can be harmful. It’s possible for a blood clot to form within a vein—usually one of the deep veins of the legs—and then travel elsewhere, causing complications. The risk of blood clots is elevated after surgery. Why Blood Clots Form During and After Surgery During surgery, patients lie immobile for a long period of time. After surgery, patients tend to remain immobile because of pain or mobility restrictions. For example, if a leg was operated upon, it can be difficult to walk. The longer a person remains immobile, the greater the risk is of blood clot formation. Immobility does not support healthy blood circulation, which means the blood can accumulate in certain areas and form a clot. Certain patients are at a higher risk of developing blood clots as a surgical complication. These include those who use tobacco, which is one reason why surgeons strongly urge patients to quit smoking before surgery. What Complications Can Occur from Blood Clots If a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of the legs, it’s referred to as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The DVT blood clot may travel to other parts of the body through the circulatory system. If it travels to the heart, it may cause a heart attack. If it travels to the brain, it may cause a stroke. How Patients Can Reduce the Risk of Blood Clots One effective way to reduce the risk of blood clot formation is to get up and walk around as soon as possible after surgery. A physical therapist or nurse may help you get to your feet once you are fully conscious. Follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations for taking scheduled walks around your hospital room or home after surgery. Patients of the Steamboat Orthopaedic and Spine Institute receive comprehensive patient education, including pre- and post-operative instructions to support the healing process. This medical practice provides world-class care to individuals with all sorts of musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. You can request a consultation with an orthopaedic doctor in Steamboat Springs by calling (970) 879-6663.

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