Objectives: Controversy exists over association of blood transfusions with complications. The purpose was to assess effects of limited transfusions on complication rates and hospital course. Setting: Level 1 trauma center. Patients and Methods: Three hundred seventy-one consecutive patients with Injury Severity Score ≥16 underwent fixation of fractures of spine (n 111), pelvis (n 72), acetabulum (n 57), and/or femur (n 179). Those receiving >3 units of packed red blood cell were excluded. Main Outcome Measurements: Fracture type, associated injuries, treatment details, ventilation time, complications, and hospital stay were prospectively recorded. Results: Ninety-eight patients with 107 fractures received limited transfusion, and 119 patients with 123 fractures were not transfused. The groups did not differ in age, fracture types, time to fixation, or associated injuries. Lowest hematocrit was lower in the transfused group (22.8 vs. 30.0, P < 0.0001). Surgical duration (3:23 vs. 2:28) and estimated blood loss (462 vs. 211 mL) were higher in transfused patients (all P < 0.003). Pulmonary complications occurred in 12% of transfused and 4% of nontransfused, (P 0.10). Mean days of mechanical ventilation (2.51 vs. 0.45), intensive care unit days (4.5 vs. 1.5) and total hospital stay (8.8 vs. 5.7) were higher in transfused patients (all P ≤ 0.006). After multivariate analysis, limited transfusion was associated with increased hospital and intensive care unit stays and mechanical ventilation time, but not with complications. Conclusions: Patients receiving ≤3 units of packed red blood cell had lower hematocrit and greater surgical burden, but no difference in complications versus the nontransfused group. Limited blood transfusions are likely safe, excepting a possible association with longer mechanical ventilation times and hospital stays. Level of Evidence: Therapeutic level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
- hospital stay
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine