Efficacy of tranexamic acid on surgical bleeding in spine surgery: a meta-analysis

Spine J. 2015 Apr 1;15(4):752-61. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2015.01.013. Epub 2015 Jan 21.


Background context: Spine surgery is usually associated with large amount of blood loss, necessitating blood transfusions. Blood loss-associated morbidity can be because of direct risks, such as hypotension and organ damage, or as a result of blood transfusions. The antifibrinolytic, tranexamic acid (TXA), is a lysine analog that inhibits activation of plasminogen and has shown to be beneficial in reducing surgical blood loss.

Purpose: To consolidate the findings of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) investigating the use of TXA on surgical bleeding in spine surgery.

Study design: A metaanalysis.

Study sample: Randomized controlled trials investigating the effectiveness of intravenous TXA in reducing blood loss in spine surgery, compared with a placebo/no treatment group.

Methods: MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane controlled trials register, and Google Scholar were used to identify RCTs published before January 2014 that examined the effectiveness of intravenous TXA on reduction of blood loss and blood transfusions, compared with a placebo/no treatment group in spine surgery. Metaanalysis was performed using RevMan 5. Weighted mean difference with 95% confidence intervals was used to summarize the findings across the trials for continuous outcomes. Dichotomous data were expressed as risk ratios with 95% confidence intervals. A p<.05 was considered statistically significant.

Results: Eleven RCTs were included for TXA (644 total patients). Tranexamic acid reduced intraoperative, postoperative, and total blood loss by an average of 219 mL ([-322, -116], p<.05), 119 mL ([-141, -98], p<.05), and 202 mL ([-299, -105], p<.05), respectively. Tranexamic acid led to a reduction in proportion of patients who received a blood transfusion (risk ratio 0.67 [0.54, 0.83], p<.05) relative to placebo. There was one myocardial infarction (MI) in the TXA group and one deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in placebo.

Conclusions: Tranexamic acid reduces surgical bleeding and transfusion requirements in patients undergoing spine surgery. Tranexamic acid does not appear to be associated with an increased incidence of pulmonary embolism, DVT, or MI.

Keywords: Adult spine deformity; Antifibrinolytics; Blood loss; Epsilon-aminocaproic acid; Spine surgery; Tranexamic acid; Transfusion rate.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antifibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Loss, Surgical / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Orthopedic Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Spine / surgery*
  • Tranexamic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antifibrinolytic Agents
  • Tranexamic Acid