When to Discontinue Anticoagulants in Surgeries

Preoperative assessment: when to discontinue anticoagulants? Discover how to manage medications in surgeries for patient safety.

Since their introduction into medical practice, anticoagulants have been crucial for the prevention and treatment of thrombotic conditions. However, patients using these medications who need to undergo surgical procedures pose a significant challenge for physicians and surgeons. Suspending anticoagulants, managing dosage clinically, and appropriately prescribing anticoagulants pre and post-surgery are crucial points in the preoperative assessment.


What are Anticoagulants?


Before delving into the complexities of discontinuing anticoagulants in surgical procedures, it is essential to understand what these medications are. Anticoagulants are substances that prevent blood coagulation, inhibiting the formation of unwanted blood clots. They play a vital role in preventing thromboembolic events, such as strokes and heart attacks.


Risks of Using Anticoagulants in Surgeries


While anticoagulants are crucial for many patients, they also present significant risks when it comes to surgeries. During a surgical procedure, bleeding is common. The presence of anticoagulants in the patient’s system can complicate the ability to control and stop this bleeding, increasing the risks of hemorrhage.


When Should Anticoagulants be Discontinued in Surgeries?


The decision to suspend anticoagulants depends on various factors, including the type of surgery, the reason for prescribing anticoagulants, and the individual patient’s risk of developing blood clots. Generally, in major surgeries with a high risk of bleeding, temporary suspension of anticoagulants is considered.


Clinical Situations where Discontinuing Anticoagulants in Surgeries is Contraindicated


However, there are clinical situations where suspending anticoagulants may be riskier than allowing the patient to continue treatment. Patients with valvular heart conditions, such as mechanical atrial fibrillation, may face a considerable risk of developing blood clots if anticoagulants are suspended before surgery. In these cases, doctors need to balance the risks of surgery with the risk of thrombosis.


Clinical Management Alternatives for Anticoagulant Use in Surgery


To address this dilemma, clinical management alternatives have emerged. One of them is transitioning to shorter-acting anticoagulants before surgery, allowing a quicker reversal of their anticoagulant effect if excessive bleeding occurs during the procedure. This balances the need for clot prevention with the ability to control bleeding during surgery.


Prescribing Anticoagulants to Avoid Thromboembolic Events


In some situations, prescribing anticoagulants before surgery is necessary to prevent thromboembolic events. This occurs in patients at high risk of blood clots, such as those with cardiac valve prostheses. In these cases, carefully administering anticoagulants is essential to balance clot prevention with the risk of bleeding during surgery.


The Importance of Preoperative Assessment


In conclusion, preoperative assessment plays a crucial role in managing patients using anticoagulants. It is essential for physicians, surgeons, and hematologists to work together to make informed and individual decisions about suspending, transitioning, or prescribing anticoagulants to ensure patient safety during the surgical procedure.


In this context, understanding when to discontinue anticoagulants in surgeries is a complex but fundamental task for modern medicine. The approach should be personalized, taking into account the patient’s clinical condition, the type of surgery, and the involved risks. Detailed preoperative assessment, coupled with knowledge of clinical management alternatives, is essential to ensure the best possible outcome and patient safety.




This article highlights the importance of making informed decisions when dealing with patients using anticoagulants who require surgery. Proper discontinuation, when necessary, and careful management of these medications are essential to ensure the safety and well-being of patients. Thorough preoperative assessment, along with collaboration among medical specialists, is the key to addressing this challenge in modern medicine.

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