Objective. TNF-α blockers reportedly increase the risk of complications in rheumatic patients following surgery. Whereas deep venous thrombosis (DVT) is a significant complication after orthopaedic surgery of the lower limbs, the risk for DVT in RA patients receiving TNF blockers remains unclear. The aim of this study was to identify complications that can be attributed to the use of TNF-α blocker therapy. Methods. In a retrospective 1:1 pair-matched case-control study, 64 anti-TNF-treated RA surgeries (TNF group) and 64 surgeries treated with conventional DMARDs (DMARDS group) were evaluated for surgical site infection (SSI), DVT and recurrence of arthritis (flare-up). Multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to test the association of SSI or DVT with the putative risk factors. Results. Regression analysis identified the use of TNF blockers as a risk factor for SSI [P = 0.036; odds ratio (OR) = 21.80] and development of DVT (P = 0.03; OR = 2.83) after major orthopaedic surgery: 12.5% (8/64) of the patients in the TNF group had SSI, whereas 2% (1/64) of those in the DMARDs group had SSI. Fifty-one per cent (23/45) of the TNF group, but only 26% (12/45) of the DMARDs group was DVT positive. Flare-ups during the perioperative period were found in 17.2% (11/64) of all patients, and no delay in wound healing occurred in either group. Conclusions. These data suggest that the use of TNF blockers is a likely cause of SSI and DVT development in RA patients following major orthopaedic surgery.
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