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This article is the author’s final published version in Scientific Reports, Volume 11, Issue 1, October 2021, Article number 21240.

The published version is available at Copyright © Shohat et al.


The association between blood transfusions and thromboembolic events (VTE) following total joint arthroplasty (TJA) remains debatable. Using contemporary institutional data, this study aimed to determine whether blood transfusions increase the risk of VTE following primary and revision TJA. This was a single institution, retrospective cohort study. The clinical records of all patients (n = 34,824) undergoing primary and revision TJA between 2009 and 2020 were reviewed. Demographic variables, co-morbidities, type of chemoprophylaxis and intraoperative factors such as use of tranexamic acid were collected. Clinical notes, hospital orders, and discharge summaries were reviewed to determine if a patient received a blood transfusion. Comprehensive queries utilizing keywords for VTE were conducted in clinical notes, physician dictations, and patient-provider phone-call logs. Propensity score matching as well as adjusted mixed models were performed. After adjusting for various confounders, results from regression analysis showed a significant association between allogenic blood transfusions and risk for developing VTE following primary and revision TJA (OR 4.11, 95% CI 2.53–6.69 and OR 2.15, 95% CI 1.12–4.13, respectively). While this strong association remained significant for PE in both primary (p < 0.001) and revision (p < 0.001) matched cohorts, it was no longer statistically significant for DVT (p = 0.802 and p = 0.65, respectively). These findings suggest that the risk of VTE is increased by approximately three-folds when blood transfusions are prescribed. This association was mainly due to higher symptomatic PE events which makes it even more worrisome. Surgeons should be aware of this association, revisit criteria for blood transfusions and use all means available in the perioperative period to optimize the patients and avoid transfusion.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.