Background: Patient blood management is introduced as a new concept that involves the combined use of transfusion alternatives. In elective adult total hip- or knee-replacement surgery patients, the authors conducted a large randomized study on the integrated use of erythropoietin, cell saver, and/or postoperative drain reinfusion devices (DRAIN) to evaluate allogeneic erythrocyte use, while applying a restrictive transfusion threshold. Patients with a preoperative hemoglobin level greater than 13 g/dl were ineligible for erythropoietin and evaluated for the effect of autologous blood reinfusion.
Methods: Patients were randomized between autologous reinfusion by cell saver or DRAIN or no blood salvage device. Primary outcomes were mean intra- and postoperative erythrocyte use and proportion of transfused patients (transfusion rate). Secondary outcome was cost-effectiveness.
Results: In 1,759 evaluated total hip- and knee-replacement surgery patients, the mean erythrocyte use was 0.19 (SD, 0.9) erythrocyte units/patient in the autologous group (n = 1,061) and 0.22 (0.9) erythrocyte units/patient in the control group (n = 698) (P = 0.64). The transfusion rate was 7.7% in the autologous group compared with 8.3% in the control group (P = 0.19). No difference in erythrocyte use was found between cell saver and DRAIN groups. Costs were increased by €298 per patient (95% CI, 76 to 520).
Conclusion: In patients with preoperative hemoglobin levels greater than 13 g/dl, autologous intra- and postoperative blood salvage devices were not effective as transfusion alternatives: use of these devices did not reduce erythrocyte use and increased costs.