Use of blood conservation techniques in elective surgery reduces the risk of infection and transfusion reactions that result from using allogeneic blood products. We examined the transfusion practice and blood conservation strategies for elective orthopedic procedures in 19 Canadian hospitals.
We reviewed the medical records of patients who underwent total hip or knee joint arthroplasty between June 1998 and January 1999 in a convenience sample of 19 hospitals to determine the pre- and postoperative hemoglobin concentrations, concurrent medical conditions, participation status in an autologous blood donation program, use of other blood conservation techniques, and occurrence of allogeneic and autologous transfusions. Patients were considered eligible for autologous blood donation if they weighed at least 25 kg, were in good general health without major cardiac conditions and had a hemoglobin concentration of at least 110 g/L.
We reviewed 4535 medical records. Of the 4422 patients whose eligibility status was known, 2561 (57.9%) were eligible to participate in an autologous blood donation program. Only 842 (18.6%) of the patients predonated blood. Patients who did not predonate blood were older (mean age 70.1 v. 63.8 years) and were more likely to have concomitant medical conditions (60.3% v. 37.9%) than those who did predonate. Overall, 30.6% (95% confidence interval [CI] 29.1%–32.1%) of the patients who did not predonate blood received allogeneic transfusions. For patients who predonated, the rate of allogeneic transfusion was 14.1% (95% CI 11.8%–16.5%). The frequency with which blood conservation techniques other than autologous blood donation were used was minimal (in 2.4% of all cases).
The use of blood conservation techniques among hospitals in Canada remains low. Only a minority of eligible patients participated in an autologous blood donation program.