Post-Surgical Bleeding: Know Your Risk


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — With the endless possibilities of what can go wrong, surgery can be a frightening experience for many. But once the surgery is over, there are still complications, such as bleeding and blood clots that can put your life at risk. A new study investigated these complications and found some surprising results.

A lot has been done over the years to lower death rates after surgery.

Melissa Bellomy, MD, an assistant professor at University of Texas, Southwestern, formerly Clinical Fellow at Vanderbilt said, “There’s been a big effort in our country over the past ten to 15 years to really combat blood clots. Those are an established cause of mortality.”

But in a new study by Vanderbilt researchers, there may be another surprising complication that may be putting patients’ lives at higher risk.

“Blood clots had on the order of zero to four or five deaths per 100,000 patients experiencing surgery. Whereas bleeding was more on the order of between around ten and 50 patients per 100,000,” shared Robert Freundlich, MD, MS, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University.

What makes things more complicated is that there is a tradeoff.

“So many of the things that we use to treat bleeding can actually increase the risk of blood clots and vice versa,” explained Dr. Freundlich.

The team says this new information suggests that it is critical to look at ways to lower bleeding risks in patients. Patients can reduce their own risk by talking to their doctors. Tell your doctor if you have ever had uncontrolled bleeding after surgery before, what medications you are currently taking, and if you are taking over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or even garlic supplements. These all can increase risk for bleeding after surgery.

Another thing you can do if you or your doctor are concerned about bleeding easily or if you have a low blood count is ask for a blood test before undergoing surgery.

Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and Bruce Maniscalco, Videographer.


REPORT #2790

BACKGROUND: Bleeding after surgery is called postoperative bleeding. It may come from the incision, but it can also occur inside the body. The bleeding may start immediately, or several days after surgery. Postoperative bleeding can become life-threatening. Surgery is also one of the major causes of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of your body. Clots happen when blood thickens and sticks together. A blood clot can be a good thing when it prevents you from bleeding, but not so much when it forms inside your blood vessels because it can travel to your lungs. This is called a pulmonary embolism (PE), and can be life-threatening if it blocks blood flow. While a clot can form after any type of procedure, it’s more likely to form if you’ve had major surgery, particularly on your abdomen, pelvis, hips, or legs.

(Source:,bleeding%20can%20become%20life%2Dthreatening and

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT:  A doctor will ask about your health, and if you or anyone in your family has a bleeding disorder. They will review what medicines you take, including over-the-counter, and vitamin or herbal supplements. A blood test may be done to show how well your blood clots. Procedures such as endoscopy and angiography may be used to find the source of the bleeding, or to control it. And surgery may be done in the same area to pinpoint where the blood is coming from. Some treatments for postoperative bleeding are a blood transfusion, antifibrinolytic medicines, and surgery. To diagnose DVT, your doctor review your symptoms and have a physical exam so they can check for areas of swelling, tenderness or discoloration on your skin. Depending on how likely you are to have a blood clot, your doctor might suggest tests, including ultrasound, blood test, venography, and CT or MRI scan.

(Source:,bleeding%20can%20become%20life%2Dthreatening and

NEW RESEARCH: BLEEDING VS BLOOD CLOTS: According to a new study, mortality due to postoperative bleeding exceeds that of postoperative venous thromboembolism (VTE). Researchers at Vanderbilt University and University of Michigan are researching to better understand the relative contributions of bleeding and VTE to postoperative mortality. “The mortality attributable to bleeding in the time period around surgery was significantly higher than from blood clots in every year that we studied,” said lead author Melissa Bellomy, MD, of the Vanderbilt University division of cardiothoracic anesthesiology, who is now assistant professor at University of Texas Southwestern. “This raises the important questions of why bleeding is associated with more death, and how can we best treat patients to prevent death associated with bleeding.” Senior author Robert Freundlich, MD, of the Vanderbilt University departments of anesthesiology and biomedical informatics said, “I think people are doing a really good job of addressing blood clots after surgery, making sure that even when blood clots do happen they aren’t bad enough to lead to a patient dying. Really just very, very undetectable mortality.”


* For More Information, Contact:

Melissa Bellomy, MD                                                                          Craig Boerner, Media Relations                                  


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