BACKGROUND: Transfusion with red blood cells (RBC) may be needed during hip revision surgery but the appropriate haemoglobin concentration (Hb) threshold for transfusion has not been well established. We hypothesized that a higher transfusion threshold would improve ambulation after hip revision surgery.
METHODS: The trial was registered at Clinicaltrials.gov ( NCT00906295). Sixty-six patients aged 18 years or older undergoing hip revision surgery were randomized to receive RBC at a Hb threshold of either 7.3 g/dL (restrictive group) or 8.9 g/dL (liberal group). Postoperative ambulation was assessed using Timed Up and Go-test (TUG) and ability to walk was also assessed daily by a physiotherapist blinded to the allocation.
RESULTS: Fifty-three patients were able to perform the TUG and included in the analysis. The TUG could be completed in a median of 36 sec vs. 30 sec in the restrictive group and the liberal group, respectively (P = 0.02). The mean difference in TUG was 14.5 sec (95% CI 2.8-26.2 sec). No difference was found in the day patients could perform TUG or walk 10 meters. The Hb at the day of testing was 10.2 g/dL in the restrictive group and 9.9 g/dL in the liberal group. Only 26 patients received RBC.
CONCLUSIONS: A Hb transfusion threshold of 8.9 g/dL was associated with a statistically significantly faster TUG after hip revision surgery compared to a threshold of 7.3 g/dL but the clinical importance is questionable and the groups did not differ in Hb at the time of testing.