Both chemical and mechanical methods of prophylaxis have reduced the incidence of thromboembolic complications following total knee replacement (TKR). Only a few studies have shown that mobilization on the first post-operative day further reduces the incidence of thromboembolic phenomena. We conducted a prospective study to verify not only if early mobilization but also whether the distance mobilized on the first post-operative day after TKR reduced the incidence of thromboembolic complications. The incidence of deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism were compared in 50 consecutive patients who underwent TKR from July 2006 following a change in the mobilization protocol with 50 consecutive patients who underwent TKR before the protocol was instigated. The mobilization protocol changed from strict bed rest the first post-operative day to mobilization on the first post-operative day. Mobilization was defined as sitting out of bed or walking for at least 15-30 min twice a day. The distance mobilized was accurately recorded by the physiotherapists. All patients underwent duplex scans of both lower limbs on the fourth post-operative day. There was a significant reduction in the incidence of thromboembolic complications in the mobilization group (seven in total) compared with the control group (16 in total) (P= 0.03). Furthermore, in the mobilization group the odds of developing a thromboemobloic complication was significantly reduced the greater the distance the patient mobilized (Chi-squared linear trend = 8.009, P= 0.0047). Early mobilization in the first 24 h after TKR is a cheap and effective way to reduce the incidence of post-operative deep venous thrombosis.
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