My mother died of a blood clot to the lungs in 1972 shortly after having a total hip replacement. Now it's my turn to have a hip replacement and I'm scared the same thing will happen to me. Is that possible?

There have been many changes and improvements in total hip replacements (THR) since the 1970s. Some of those are directly related to reducing the number of blood clots. In the 1970s doctors reported a rate of blood clots as high as eight percent. Today it's less than one percent.

At that time preventive measures weren't taken. For example, today drugs can be used to thin the blood and prevent excessive clotting. In patients with an increased risk anticoagulants can be used before, during, and even after the operation.

Other measures are also used now. Special elastic stockings and compression pumps are put on each patient's legs to help pump the blood back into circulation. Leg exercises are also added and patients are up and walking within 24 hours of the operation. All these efforts have been shown to reduce the number and seriousness of blood clots.

Patients even donate their own blood in case a blood transfusion is needed. Doctors make every effort to prevent blood clots from forming or causing problems. Talk to your doctorabout your concerns. Find out what preventive efforts are routinely used in your area.