Regional anesthesia and anticoagulation

Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology (Impact Factor: 1.98). 10/2004; 17(5):427-433. DOI: 10.1097/00001503-200410000-00013


Purpose of review:
Patients receiving perioperative anticoagulation are a challenge for anesthesiologists when regional anesthesia would be a beneficial component of the anesthetic plan. Newly approved antithrombotic drugs maintain the need for updated review articles and recommendations.

Recent findings:
Due to the very low incidence of bleeding complications, guidelines are solely based on retrospective analyses of case reports and pharmacological considerations. Hence, they should not be taken as evidence-based 'cook books'. Recommendations of well established anticoagulants like heparin and non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs may have a solid basis. However, the lack of data on new antithrombotic drugs including GII/GIIIA antagonists, factor X and thrombin-inhibitors requires a more conservative approach when regional anesthesia is considered. Current literature emphasizes postoperative monitoring; clear recommendations of its performance, however, are missing.

Decisions to perform regional anesthesia in patients under anticoagulation should always be made on an individual risk-benefit assessment. A vigilant preoperative evaluation of the patient's medication and physical findings are as important as awareness of postoperative plans for anticoagulation.

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