The Use of Fibrin Tissue Adhesive to Reduce Blood Loss and the Need for Blood Transfusion After Total Knee Arthroplasty. A Prospective,Randomized, Multicenter Study

Background: Total knee arthroplasty is associated with major postoperative blood loss of approximately 800 to 1200 milliliters, and blood transfusion is frequently required. With the increased concern about the risks of blood transfusion, various methods of blood conservation in orthopaedic surgery have been studied. The most appropriate solution, however, is to reduce the loss of blood during and after an operation. The present prospective, controlled, randomized study was designed to evaluate the hemostatic efficacy of the use of fibrin tissue adhesive in patients managed with total knee arthroplasty.

Methods: Fifty-eight patients who were cheduled to have a total knee arthroplasty were randomly divided into two groups: a control group, in which the standard means of hemostasis were applied, and a treatment group, in which the standard means to control local bleeding were applied and a fibrin tissue adhesive was sprayed on the internal aspects of the operative field before skin closure. All operations were performed in a bloodless field with use of a pneumatic tourniquet. All patients received low-molecular-weight heparin as thromboprophylaxis twelve hours before the operation and every twelve hours postoperatively. Blood loss during the operation was evaluated by measuring the volume in the suction apparatus and by estimating the amount of lost blood in the swabs at the end of the operation. The apparent postoperative lost blood was determined by measuring the volume in the suction-drain bottles. All blood transfusions were recorded.

Results: The mean apparent postoperative blood loss (and standard deviation) in the fibrin-tissue-adhesive group was 360 ± 287.7 milliliters compared with 878 ±403.0 milliliters in the control group, with a mean difference of 518 milliliters (p < 0.001). The decrease in the level of hemoglobin was 25 ± 10 grams per liter in thetreatment group compared with 37 ± 12 grams per liter in the control group (p < 0.001). Sixteen patients (55 percent) in the control group required a blood transfusion and eight (28 percent) required two units of blood,whereas only five (17 percent) of the patients in the fibrin-tissue-adhesive group required a blood transfusion and only one (3 percent) required two units (p =0.004). The number of adverse events was comparable between the two groups. None of the adverse events were considered to be related to the use of fibrin tissue adhesive. One death, which was due to massive pulmonary embolism, was reported in the control group. No seroconversion was reported at three and six months after the operation.

Conclusion: The use of fibrin tissue adhesive in total knee arthroplasty seems to be an effective and safe means with which to reduce blood loss and blood transfusion requirements. Furthermore, the importance of these findings was enhanced by a significant reduction in blood loss, in the postoperative decrease in the level of hemoglobin, and in blood-transfusion requirements despite preoperative thromboprophylaxis with low-molecular-weight heparin.

(J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1999;81:1580-8.)