BACKGROUND: The safety of anticoagulation interruption in patients requiring surgical or invasive procedures remains unclear. We thus performed a systematic review and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and non-randomized studies (NRS).
METHODS: MEDLINE, Embase and Central databases were searched to March 2017 without date or language restrictions. We considered RCTs and NRS comparing anticoagulation interruption with any anticoagulation (continuation or heparin bridging) in adult surgical patients taking oral anticoagulation. Data were independently extracted. The quality of the evidence was assessed following recommendations from the Cochrane collaboration (GRADE approach). Risk ratios were calculated for 30-day events: thromboembolic (TE) events, major bleeding and mortality. Additional analyses explored the effects of different anticoagulation strategies.
RESULTS: Twelve reports were included: 4 RCTs (2190 participants) and 8 NRS (18993 participants). Trials included mostly participants with atrial fibrillation. Interrupting anticoagulation did not seem to increase TE events (RR 0.65, 95% CI [0.33, 1.30]-4 studies, 2190 participants) and resulted in less bleeding (RR 0.41, 95% CI [0.22, 0.78]-3 studies, 2126 participants) compared to anticoagulation continuation or heparin bridging. The GRADE assessment was moderate. Similar results were found in non-randomized studies, but the quality of the evidence was low. Possible strategy-specific effects were identified: forgoing heparin bridging seemed beneficial, but these effects were less clear with other strategies.
CONCLUSION: Interrupting anticoagulation in patients requiring invasive procedures did not seem to result in harm and protected against major bleeding. Uncertainty remains regarding the safety of this strategy in indications other than atrial fibrillation and in moderate- to high-risk surgery.