One of the most common postoperative complications is venous thromboembolism, a term encompassing deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. This article reviews the epidemiology, natural history, difficulties in diagnosis, and strategies for the prevention of postoperative venous thromboembolism. We thoroughly review the currently available methods for thromboprophylaxis including: early ambulation, elastic compression stockings, pneumatic compression devices, inferior vena cava filters, and a variety of pharmacologic agents such as unfractionated heparin, warfarin, aspirin, low molecular weight heparin, and pentasaccharides. Finally, we review the perioperative management of patients on long-term oral anticoagulation.
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