Effect of antiplatelet therapy on patients undergoing gastroenterological surgery: thromboembolic risks versus bleeding risks during its perioperative withdrawal

Takahisa Fujikawa, Akira Tanaka, Toshihiro Abe, Yasunori Yoshimoto, Seiichiro Tada, Hisatsugu Maekawa
World Journal of Surgery 2015, 39 (1): 139-49

BACKGROUND: Antiplatelet agents given to prevent thromboembolic disease are frequently withdrawn prior to surgical procedures to reduce bleeding complications. This action may expose patients to increased thromboembolic morbidity and mortality.

METHODS: A series of 2012 patients who had undergone gastroenterologic surgery between January 2005 and June 2010 at our institution were reviewed. Among this cohort, antiplatelet therapy (APT) was used in 519 patients (25.8 %). The perioperative management included interruption of APT 1 week before surgery and early postoperative reinstitution in patients at low thromboembolic risk, although APT was maintained until surgery in those at high thromboembolic risk. Bleeding and thromboembolic complications, as well as other outcome variables, were assessed in patients with and without APT.

RESULTS: Among 519 patients with APT, 99 (19.1 %) underwent multidrug APT. Among them, 124 (23.9 %) required preoperative continuation of APT. None suffered from excessive bleeding intraoperatively. There were 19 thromboembolic events (0.9 %) in the whole cohort. Postoperative bleeding complications occurred in 37 patients (1.8 %). Multivariate analysis showed that increased postoperative bleeding complications were independently associated with multidrug APT [hazard ratio (HR) 4.3, p = 0.014], high-risk surgical procedures (HR 3.5, p = 0.003), and perioperative heparin bridging (HR 2.8, p = 0.029). High-risk surgery (HR 8.3, p < 0.001) and poor performance status (HR 4.9, p = 0.005)--but neither APT nor anticoagulation use--were significant prognostic factors for thromboembolic complications.

CONCLUSIONS: Satisfactory outcomes were obtained during gastroenterologic surgery under rigorous perioperative management, including single-agent APT continuation in patients at high thromboembolic risk. Patients treated with multidrug APT still represent a challenging group, however, and need to be carefully managed to prevent perioperative complications.

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