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Background: Patient blood management combines the use of several transfusion alternatives. Integrated use of erythropoietin, cell saver, and/or postoperative drain reinfusion devices on allogeneic erythrocyte use was evaluated using a restrictive transfusion threshold.

Methods: In a factorial design, adult elective hip- and knee-surgery patients with hemoglobin levels 10 to 13 g/dl (n = 683) were randomized for erythropoietin or not, and subsequently for autologous reinfusion by cell saver or postoperative drain reinfusion devices or for no blood salvage device. Primary outcomes were mean allogeneic intra- and postoperative erythrocyte use and proportion of transfused patients (transfusion rate). Secondary outcome was cost-effectiveness.

Results: With erythropoietin (n = 339), mean erythrocyte use was 0.50 units (U)/patient and transfusion rate 16% while without (n = 344), these were 0.71 U/patient and 26%, respectively. Consequently, erythropoietin resulted in a nonsignificant 29% mean erythrocyte reduction (ratio, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.42 to 1.13) and 50% reduction of transfused patients (odds ratio, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.35 to 0.75). Erythropoietin increased costs by [Euro sign]785 per patient (95% CI, 262 to 1,309), that is, [Euro sign]7,300 per avoided transfusion (95% CI, 1,900 to 24,000). With autologous reinfusion, mean erythrocyte use was 0.65 U/patient and transfusion rate was 19% with erythropoietin (n = 214) and 0.76 U/patient and 29% without (n = 206). Compared with controls, autologous blood reinfusion did not result in erythrocyte reduction and increased costs by [Euro sign]537 per patient (95% CI, 45 to 1,030).

Conclusions: In hip- and knee-replacement patients (hemoglobin level, 10 to 13 g/dl), even with a restrictive transfusion trigger, erythropoietin significantly avoids transfusion, however, at unacceptably high costs. Autologous blood salvage devices were not effective.

(C) 2014 American Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc.