Editorial: J Bone Joint Surg B
Moonen AF, Thomassen BJ, Knoors NT, van Os JJ, Verburg AD, Pilot P
This prospective randomised clinical trial evaluated the effect of alternatives for allogeneic blood transfusions after total hip replacement and total knee replacement in patients with pre-operative haemoglobin levels between 10.0 g/dl and 13.0 g/dl. A total of 100 patients were randomly allocated to the Eprex (pre-operative injections of epoetin) or Bellovac groups (post-operative retransfusion of shed blood). Allogeneic blood transfusions were administered according to hospital policy. In the Eprex group, 4% of the patients (two patients) received at least one allogeneic blood transfusion. In the Bellovac group, where a mean 216 ml (0 to 700) shed blood was retransfused, 28% (14 patients) required the allogeneic transfusion (p = 0.002). When comparing Eprex with Bellovac in total hip replacement, the percentages were 7% (two of 30 patients) and 30% (nine of 30 patients) (p = 0.047) respectively, whereas in total knee replacement, the percentages were 0% (0 of 20 patients) and 25% (five of 20 patients) respectively (p = 0.042). Pre-operative epoetin injections are more effective but more costly in reducing the need for allogeneic blood transfusions in mildly anaemic patients than post-operative retransfusion of autologous blood.