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Data Conflict on Blood Transfusion Requirements for Heavier Patients

Study finds need for lower blood transfusion rates in patients with higher BMIs

A study conducted by researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit found dramatically lower blood transfusion rates in overweight or obese patients compared to patients of normal weight. Furthermore, the results did not suggest any correlation between heavier patients and postsurgical complications such as blood clots and heart attacks.

The retrospective study evaluated more than 2,300 patients who underwent hip or knee replacement surgery. It adds to a growing body of conflicting evidence on the link between body mass index (BMI) and blood transfusions in hip and knee replacement surgery.

As noted by Medical Xpress, key study findings include the following:

  • A 34.8% blood transfusion rate for hip replacement for patients with normal BMIs compared to 21.9% for patients with BMIs indicating obesity.
  • A 17.3% blood transfusion rate for knee replacement for patients with normal BMIs compared to 8.3% for patients with BMIs indicating obesity.
  • A trend toward increased rates of deep surgical site infections in patients with BMIs indicating obesity.

"The results were surprising to us. It goes against the normal thought process," says Craig Silverton, DO, a Henry Ford joint replacement surgeon and the study's lead author. "It's hard to explain, but one theory could be that heavier patients have larger blood volume than patients of normal weight."

An estimated 78.6 million adult Americans are obese, and their weight problems are closely linked with an increased demand for hip and knee replacement surgery, according to government and research figures.

Source: Medical Xpress, October 1, 2015.

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