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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Efficacy of tranexamic acid in reducing blood loss in posterior lumbar spine surgery for degenerative spinal stenosis with instability: a retrospective case control study

Stefan Endres*, Martin Heinz and Axel Wilke

Author Affiliations

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Elisabeth-Klinik Bigge/Olsberg, Heinrich-Sommer-Str. 4, 59939 Olsberg, Germany

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BMC Surgery 2011, 11:29  doi:10.1186/1471-2482-11-29

Published: 3 November 2011

Abstract

Background

Degenerative spinal stenosis and instability requiring multilevel spine surgery has been associated with large blood losses. Factors that affect perioperative blood loss include time of surgery, surgical procedure, patient height, combined anterior/posterior approaches, number of levels fused, blood salvage techniques, and the use of anti-fibrinolytic medications. This study was done to evaluate the efficacy of tranexamic acid in reducing blood loss in spine surgery.

Methods

This retrospective case control study includes 97 patients who had to undergo surgery because of degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis and instability. All operations included spinal decompression, interbody fusion and posterior instrumentation (4-5 segments). Forty-six patients received 1 g tranexamic acid intravenous, preoperative and six hours and twelve hours postoperative; 51 patients without tranexamic acid administration were evaluated as a control group. Based on the records, the intra- and postoperative blood losses were measured by evaluating the drainage and cell saver systems 6, 12 and 24 hours post operation. Additionally, hemoglobin concentration and platelet concentration were reviewed. Furthermore, the number of red cell transfusions given and complications associated with tranexamic acid were assessed.

Results

The postoperative hemoglobin concentration demonstrated a statistically significant difference with a p value of 0.0130 showing superiority for tranexamic acid use (tranexamic acid group: 11.08 g/dl, SD: 1.68; control group: 10.29 g/dl, SD: 1.39). The intraoperative cell saver volume and drainage volume after 24 h demonstrated a significant difference as well, which indicates a less blood loss in the tranexamic acid group than the control group. The postoperative drainage volume at12 hours showed no significant differences; nor did the platelet concentration Allogenic blood transfusion (two red cell units) was needed for eight patients in the tranexamic acid group and nine in the control group because of postoperative anemia. Complications associated with the administration of tranexamic acid, e.g. renal failure, deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism did not occur.

Conclusions

This study suggests a less blood loss when administering tranexamic acid in posterior lumbar spine surgery as demonstrated by the higher postoperative hemoglobin concentration and the less blood loss. But given the relatively small volume of blood loss in the patients of this study it is underpowered to show a difference in transfusion rates.