Do antifibrinolytics reduce allogeneic blood transfusion in orthopedic surgery?

Anesthesiology. 2006 Nov;105(5):1034-46. doi: 10.1097/00000542-200611000-00026.


Studies have shown that antifibrinolytic (aprotinin, tranexamic acid, epsilon-aminocaproic acid) reduce blood loss in orthopedic surgery. However, most lacked sufficient power to evaluate the efficacy and safety on clinical outcomes. This meta-analysis aims to evaluate whether intravenous antifibrinolytics, when compared with placebo, reduce perioperative allogeneic erythrocyte transfusion requirement in adults undergoing orthopedic surgery and whether it might increase the risk of venous thromboembolism. From MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, the authors identified 43 randomized controlled trials in total hip and knee arthroplasty, spine fusion, musculoskeletal sepsis, or tumor surgery performed to July 2005 (for aprotinin, 23 trials with 1,268 participants; tranexamic acid, 20 with 1,084; epsilon-aminocaproic acid, 4 with 171). Aprotinin and tranexamic acid reduced significantly the proportion of patients requiring allogeneic erythrocyte transfusion according to a transfusion protocol. The odds ratio was 0.43 (95% confidence interval, 0.28-0.64) for aprotinin and 0.17 (0.11-0.24) for tranexamic acid. Results suggest a dose-effect relation with tranexamic acid. Epsilon-aminocaproic acid was not efficacious. Unfortunately, data were too limited for any conclusions regarding safety. Although the results suggest that aprotinin and tranexamic acid significantly reduce allogeneic erythrocyte transfusion, further evaluation of safety is required before recommending the use of antifibrinolytics in orthopedic surgery.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aminocaproic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Antifibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Aprotinin / therapeutic use
  • Blood Transfusion
  • Erythrocyte Transfusion
  • Humans
  • Orthopedic Procedures*
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / prevention & control*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Tranexamic Acid / therapeutic use


  • Antifibrinolytic Agents
  • Tranexamic Acid
  • Aprotinin
  • Aminocaproic Acid