Recovery from post-operative anaemia.
Acceptance of lower transfusion thresholds and shorter post-operative stays results in patients leaving hospital after surgery with lower haemoglobin (Hb) than previously. We undertook a prospective observational study to assess the haematological response to post-operative anaemia and to determine the utility of quality of life (QoL) measures in assessing the impact of anaemia on such patients. Thirty patients undergoing unilateral hip arthroplasty had blood samples taken and QoL questionnaires administered pre-operatively and at 7, 28 and 56 days post-operatively. Increased erythropoiesis was evident at day 7 post-operatively. Approximately two-thirds of the post-operative Hb deficit was corrected by day 28. There was evidence of functional iron deficiency in more than one-quarter of patients at day 56. QoL scores used did not show any relationship with Hb in the post-operative period. Red cell 2,3-diphosphoglycerate (2,3DPG) levels increased in proportion to the degree of post-operative anaemia. We concluded that substantial recovery of Hb occurs between day 7 and day 28 post-operatively. Complete recovery of Hb may be delayed beyond day 56 due to development of iron deficiency. Patients are at significant risk of developing post-operative iron deficiency depending on operative blood loss and pre-operative iron stores. Increased red cell 2,3DPG may offset the effect of anaemia on oxygen delivery. We found no evidence that anaemia produces a measurable effect on chosen QoL scores in the post-operative period.