A transfusion threshold of 8 g/dl of hemoglobin is considered safe for asymptomatic orthopedic surgery patients, but lower thresholds have not been tested
What This Article Tells Us That Is New:
A blood management program using a hemoglobin transfusion threshold of 7 g/dl in asymptomatic orthopedic patients reduces blood use by 32.5% and results in similar or improved clinical outcomes
Improved outcomes occurred primarily in patients 65 yr of age and older
Background: Although randomized trials show that patients do well when given less blood, there remains a persistent impression that orthopedic surgery patients require a higher hemoglobin transfusion threshold than other patient populations (8 g/dl vs. 7 g/dl). The authors tested the hypothesis in orthopedic patients that implementation of a patient blood management program encouraging a hemoglobin threshold less than 7 g/dl results in decreased blood use with no change in clinical outcomes.
Methods: After launching a multifaceted patient blood management program, the authors retrospectively evaluated all adult orthopedic patients, comparing transfusion practices and clinical outcomes in the pre- and post-blood management cohorts. Risk adjustment accounted for age, sex, surgical procedure, and case mix index.
Results: After patient blood management implementation, the mean hemoglobin threshold decreased from 7.8 ± 1.0 g/dl to 6.8 ± 1.0 g/dl (P < 0.0001). Erythrocyte use decreased by 32.5% (from 338 to 228 erythrocyte units per 1,000 patients; P = 0.0007). Clinical outcomes improved, with decreased morbidity (from 1.3% to 0.54%; P = 0.01), composite morbidity or mortality (from 1.5% to 0.75%; P = 0.035), and 30-day readmissions (from 9.0% to 5.8%; P = 0.0002). Improved outcomes were primarily recognized in patients 65 yr of age and older. After risk adjustment, patient blood management was independently associated with decreased composite morbidity or mortality (odds ratio, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.22 to 0.86; P = 0.016).
Conclusions: In a retrospective study, patient blood management was associated with reduced blood use with similar or improved clinical outcomes in orthopedic surgery. A hemoglobin threshold of 7 g/dl appears to be safe for many orthopedic patients.