[Intra-Articular Application of Tranexamic Acid Significantly Reduces Blood Loss and Transfusion Requirement in Primary Total Knee Arthroplasty]

Acta Chir Orthop Traumatol Cech. 2016;83(4):254-262.
[Article in Czech]


PURPOSE OF THE STUDY The aim of this prospective study was to investigate the effect of topical application of tranexamic acid (TXA, Exacyl) on the amount of post-operative blood loss, and blood transfusion requirement in patients undergoing primary total knee arthroplasty (TKA). Attention was paid to early complications potentially associated with TXA administration, such as haematoma, wound exudate, or knee swelling. In addition, the economic benefit of TXA treatment was also taken into account. MATERIAL AND METHODS The study included 238 patients (85 men and 153 women) who underwent primary total knee arthroplasty (TKA) at our department between January 2013 and November 2015. A group of 119 patients (41 men and 78 women) received intraarticular TXA injections according to the treatment protocol (TXA group). A control group matched in basic characteristics to the TXA group also consisted of 119 patients. The average age in the TXA group was 69.8 years, and the most frequent indication for TKA surgery was primary knee osteoarthritis (81.5%). In each patient, post-operative volume of blood lost from drains and total blood loss including hidden blood loss were recorded, as well as post-operative haemoglobin and haematocrit levels. On discharge of each patient from hospital, the size and site of a haematoma; wound exudate, if present after post-operative day 4; joint swelling; range of motion and early revision surgery, if performed, were evaluated. Requirements of analgesic drugs after surgery were also recorded. RESULTS In the TXA group, blood losses from drains were significantly lower than in the control group (456.7 ± 270.8 vs 640.5 ±448.2; p = 0.004). The median value for blood losses from drains was lower by 22% and the average value for total blood loss, including hidden losses, was also lower than in the control group (762.4 ± 345.2 ml vs 995.5 ± 457.3 ml). The difference in the total amount of blood loss between the two groups was significant (p = 0.0001), including hidden blood loss (p = 0.030). The TXA patients had significantly fewer requirements for allogeneic blood transfusion (p < 0.0004), higher post-operative haemoglobin levels (p = 0.014), lower incidence of haematomas (p = 0.0003), and a significantly higher flexion degree on discharge from hospital (p < 0.0001). No higher volume of wound drainage was found (p = 1.000). Only one patient of the TXA group underwent revision surgery due to wound healing disturbance. The total costs of blood transfusion requirements were significantly lower in the TXA group than in the control group (p = 0.0004). DISCUSSION Topical administration allows the antifibrinolytic effect of TXA to act directly at a bleeding site. Its advantages involve easy application, maximum TXA concentration at the site of application, no danger associated with administration of a higher TXA dose and minimal TXA resorption into the circulation. On the other hand, there are no exact instructions for an effective and safe topical application of TXA and some authors are concerned that a coagulum arising after TXA application might affect soft tissue behaviour (healing, swelling, rehabilitation) or result in infection. CONCLUSIONS The study showed the efficacy and safety of topical TXA administration resulting in lower peri-operative bleeding, fewer blood transfusion requirements and higher haemoglobin levels after TKA. The patients treated with TXA had less knee swelling, lower incidence of haematomas and used fewer analgesic drugs in the early post-operative period. The economic benefit is also worth considering. In agreement with the recent literature, it is suggested to add topical TXA application to the recommended procedures for TKA surgery. Key words: tranexamic acid, Exacyl, topical application, intra-articular application, blood loss, hidden blood loss, total knee arthroplasty, complications.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Aged
  • Antifibrinolytic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antifibrinolytic Agents / economics
  • Arthritis / surgery*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / adverse effects
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / methods*
  • Blood Loss, Surgical / prevention & control*
  • Blood Transfusion
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Male
  • Tranexamic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Tranexamic Acid / economics
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antifibrinolytic Agents
  • Tranexamic Acid