Rates of Deep Venous Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolus After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: A Systematic Review

Brandon J. Erickson, Bryan M. Saltzman, Kirk A. Campbell, Yale A. Fillingham, Joshua D. Harris, Anil K. Gupta, Bernard R. Bach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Context: Venous thromboembolic (VTE) disease is thought to be an uncommon but serious problem after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. Rates of VTE after ACL reconstruction are not well documented. Objective: To determine the rates of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and symptomatic pulmonary emboli (PE) after ACL reconstruction.Data Sources:Five publicly available databases (PubMed, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Scopus, Embase, and CINAHL Complete) were utilized. Study Selection: All studies that screened patients for DVT and reported rates of DVT and PE after ACL reconstruction were eligible for inclusion. Level 5 evidence, cadaver, biomechanical, and basic science studies; studies reporting only multiligament reconstruction outcomes; studies where rates of DVT and PE could not be separated out from patients undergoing other types of arthroscopic knee procedures; and classification studies were excluded. Study Design: Systematic review.Level of Evidence: Level 4. Data Extraction:All study, subject, and surgical data were analyzed. Descriptive statistics were calculated.Results:Six studies met the inclusion criteria, with a mean Modified Colman Methodology Score of 30 ± 8.22. A total of 692 patients (488 men [70.5%]; mean age, 31.6 ± 2.82 years; mean follow-up, 7 ± 18.4 months) underwent ACL reconstruction using either semitendinosus-gracilis autograft (77.6%), bone–patellar tendon–bone (BTB) autograft (22%), or allograft (0.4%). No patient received postoperative pharmacological anticoagulation. Fifty-eight patients (8.4%) had a DVT (81% below knee and 19% above knee), while only 1 patient (0.2%) had a symptomatic PE. When reported, 27% of DVT episodes were symptomatic. Conclusion: The rate of DVT after ACL reconstruction in patients who did not receive postoperative pharmacological anticoagulation is 8.4%, while the rate of symptomatic PE is 0.2%. Of the DVT episodes that occurred, 73% were asymptomatic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-266
Number of pages6
JournalSports Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 23 2015


  • anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction
  • deep venous thrombosis
  • knee
  • prophylaxis
  • pulmonary embolus
  • thromboembolic disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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