Background: Most invasive procedures require the interruption of oral anticoagulation. In 2015, an international randomised trial demonstrated that perioperative bridging caused more harm than benefit in most anticoagulated patients with atrial fibrillation, leading to a more restrictive Dutch national guideline in April 2016. The objective of the present study was to analyse the integration of the 2016 Dutch guideline for perioperative antithrombotic management from after publication until update of hospital protocols.
Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study of patients on vitamin K antagonists undergoing a surgical procedure between April 2016 and June 2017.
Results: The proportion of high-risk patients with venous thromboembolism or atrial fibrillation receiving bridging therapy decreased from 91% and 77%, respectively at the start of the study to 33% in both groups in the last months. In high-risk patients with a mechanical heart valve, the bridging rate remained stable at 70-80% for 12 months and increased to 100% in the last 3 months. Protocol adherence for high-risk patients decreased from 80% to below 43%. The 30-day incidence of major bleeding was 4.1% (15.2% in bridged patients and 0.7% in non-bridged patients) and 10.3% for clinically relevant non-major bleeding (23.9% in bridged patients and 6.0% in non-bridged patients). The incidence of thrombo-embolism was 0.5%.
Conclusion: New evidence from the Dutch national guideline on perioperative bridging was adopted by physicians before the local hospital protocol was updated. Low incidence of thromboembolism in non-bridged patients and high incidence of bleeding in bridged patients support a more restrictive bridging policy.