Effect of a patient blood management programme on preoperative anaemia, transfusion rate, and outcome after primary hip or knee arthroplasty: a quality improvement cycle

Br J Anaesth. 2012 Jun;108(6):943-52. doi: 10.1093/bja/aes135.


Background: There are few data on the associations between anaemia, allogeneic blood transfusion (ABT), patient blood management, and outcome after arthroplasty in the UK. National agencies nevertheless instruct NHS Trusts to implement blood conservation measures including preoperative anaemia management. Internationally, blood management programmes show encouraging results.

Methods: We retrospectively audited 717 primary hip or knee arthroplasties in a UK general hospital and conducted regression analyses to identify outcome predictors. We used these data to modify previously published algorithms for UK practice and audited its introduction prospectively. The retrospective audit group served as a control.

Results: Preoperative haemoglobin (Hb) concentration predicted ABT (odds ratio 0.25 per 1 g dl(-1), P<0.001). It also predicted the length of stay (LOS, effect size -0.7 days per 1 g dl(-1), P=0.004) independently of ABT, including in non-anaemic patients. Patient blood management implementation was associated with lower ABT rates for hip (23-7%, P<0.001) and knee (7-0%, P=0.001) arthroplasty. LOS for total hip replacement and total knee replacement decreased from 6 (5-8) days to 5 (3-7) and 4 (3-6) days, respectively, after algorithm implementation (P<0.001). The all-cause re-admission rate within 90 days decreased from 13.5% (97/717) before to 8.2% (23/281) after algorithm implementation (P=0.02).

Conclusions: We conclude that preoperative Hb predicts markers of arthroplasty outcome in UK practice. A systematic approach to optimize Hb mass before arthroplasty and limit Hb loss perioperatively was associated with improved outcome up to 90 days after discharge.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Algorithms
  • Anemia / therapy*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee*
  • Blood Transfusion*
  • Female
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Patient Readmission
  • Preoperative Care*
  • Quality Improvement*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Hemoglobins