Background: Worldwide, more than 100 million women between the ages of 15 and 49 years take oral contraceptive pills (OCPs). OCP use increases the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) through its primary drug, ethinylestradiol, which slows liver metabolism, promotes tissue retention, and ultimately favors fibrinolysis inhibition and thrombosis.

Purpose: To evaluate the effects of OCP use on VTE after arthroscopic shoulder surgery.

Study Design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods: A large national payer database (PearlDiver) was queried for patients undergoing arthroscopic shoulder surgery. The incidence of VTE was evaluated in female patients taking OCPs and those not taking OCPs. A matched group was subsequently created to evaluate the incidence of VTE in similar patients with and without OCP use.

Results: A total of 57,727 patients underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery from 2007 to 2016, and 26,365 patients (45.7%) were female. At the time of surgery, 924 female patients (3.5%) were taking OCPs. The incidence of vascular thrombosis was 0.57% (n = 328) after arthroscopic shoulder surgery, and there was no significant difference in the rate of vascular thrombosis in male or female patients (0.57% vs 0.57%, respectively; P > .99). The incidence of VTE in female patients taking and not taking OCPs was 0.22% and 0.57%, respectively (P = .2). In a matched-group analysis, no significant difference existed in VTE incidence between patients with versus without OCP use (0.22% vs 0.56%, respectively; P = .2). On multivariate analysis, hypertension (odds ratio [OR], 2.00; P < .001) and obesity (OR, 1.43; P = .002) were risk factors for VTE.

Conclusion: OCP use at the time of arthroscopic shoulder surgery is not associated with an increased risk of VTE. Obesity and hypertension are associated with a greater risk for thrombolic events, although the risk remains very low. Our findings suggest that patients taking OCPs should be managed according to the surgeon’s standard prophylaxis protocol for arthroscopic shoulder surgery.

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Published in Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, v. 7, issue 1, p. 1-5.

© The Author(s) 2019

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