The pre-operative levels of haemoglobin in the blood can be used to predict the risk of allogenic blood transfusion after total knee arthroplasty

J F Maempel, N R Wickramasinghe, N D Clement, I J Brenkel, P J Walmsley

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26 Citations (Scopus)


AIMS: The pre-operative level of haemoglobin is the strongest predictor of the peri-operative requirement for blood transfusion after total knee arthroplasty (TKA). There are, however, no studies reporting a value that could be considered to be appropriate pre-operatively. This study aimed to identify threshold pre-operative levels of haemoglobin that would predict the requirement for blood transfusion in patients who undergo TKA.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Analysis of receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curves of 2284 consecutive patients undergoing unilateral TKA was used to determine gender specific thresholds predicting peri-operative transfusion with the highest combined sensitivity and specificity (area under ROC curve 0.79 for males; 0.78 for females).

RESULTS: Threshold levels of 13.75 g/dl for males and 12.75 g/dl for females were identified. The rates of transfusion in males and females, respectively above these levels were 3.37% and 7.11%, while below these levels, they were 16.13% and 28.17%. Pre-operative anaemia increased the rate of transfusion by 6.38 times in males and 6.27 times in females. Blood transfusion was associated with an increased incidence of early post-operative confusion (odds ratio (OR) = 3.44), cardiac arrhythmia (OR = 5.90), urinary catheterisation (OR = 1.60), the incidence of deep infection (OR = 4.03) and mortality (OR = 2.35) one year post-operatively, and increased length of stay (eight days vs six days, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: Uncorrected low pre-operative levels of haemoglobin put patients at potentially modifiable risk and attempts should be made to correct this before TKA. Target thresholds for the levels of haemoglobin pre-operatively in males and females are proposed.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Low pre-operative haemoglobin levels put patients at unnecessary risk and should be corrected prior to surgery. Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2016;98-B:490-7.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490-7
Number of pages8
JournalThe Bone & Joint Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


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