BACKGROUND: Oral DVT prophylaxis not requiring monitoring is an advantage in orthopaedic patients. Dabigatran etexilate is an oral direct thrombin inhibitor undergoing evaluation for the prevention of venous thromboembolic events (VTE) following orthopaedic surgery.

METHODS: In a phase III, multicenter, non-inferiority, double-blind study, patients undergoing total knee replacement were randomized to 3 treatments. The patients received 8±2 days of oral dabigatran etexilate, 150 or 220 mg once daily starting with a half dose (i.e.75 or 110 mg) 1–4 hours after surgery, or subcutaneous enoxaparin 40 mg once daily starting 12 hours prior to surgery. The primary efficacy outcome was the composite of total VTE and all causes of mortality during the treatment period. All efficacy and safety outcome events were adjudicated by blinded independent committees.

RESULTS: Efficacy could be evaluated for 1541 (75%) treated and operated patients. Total VTE and death occurred in 40.5%, 36.4% and 37.7% of patients assigned to dabigatran etexilate 150 or 220mg once daily or enoxaparin, respectively. Proximal DVT and/or PE occurred in 3.8%, 2.6% and 3.5% of patients receiving dabigatran 150 or 220mg or enoxaparin, respectively. Three deaths occurred during the treatment period, one in each of the treatment groups. Safety was evaluated for all 2076 patients receiving study treatment. The rate of major bleeding was 1.3%, 1.5% and 1.3% of patients receiving dabigatran 150 or 220mg or enoxaparin. Elevated LFTs (ALT >3xULN) occurred in 3.7%, 2.8% and 4.0% of the patients treated with 150 and 220 mg dabigatran or enoxaparin during the study. A late temporary rise in LFTs was observed in 6 patients (0.5%) who had received dabigatran.

CONCLUSIONS: Non-inferiority for the primary efficacy endpoint was met for both doses of dabigatran etexilate compared to enoxaparin. There was no difference in bleeding rates between the treatment groups. Oral administration of dabigatran etexilate once daily, given early in the postoperative period, was effective and safe for the prevention of total VTE in patients undergoing total knee replacement surgery.

Disclosures: Janet Schnee, Rohan Hettiarachchi, Anita Vedel Christiansen, Stefan Hantel are employees of Boehringer Ingelheim.; Chairman for Steering Committee and external members of the Steering Committee.; Payment per patient to the research fund as participating Investigator.; Honoraria received as an external consultant.

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