Original Research

Comparing Cost, Efficacy, and Safety of Intravenous and Topical Tranexamic Acid in Total Hip and Knee Arthroplasty

Author and Disclosure Information

We conducted a study to compare the cost, efficacy, and safety of intravenous (IV) tranexamic acid (TXA) and topical TXA in primary total hip arthroplasty (THA) and total knee arthroplasty (TKA). We retrospectively reviewed the cases of 291 patients who received either IV TXA or topical TXA before and after surgery. Significant differences favored topical TXA in reducing the postoperative decrease in hemoglobin levels in THA (P = .031) and TKA (P = .015) and calculated blood loss in TKA (P = .019). The groups did not differ in transfusion requirements for either THA or TKA. Topical TXA cost significantly more than IV TXA (P ≤ .0001). The benefits of using topical TXA to reduce the perioperative decrease in hemoglobin levels come with increased cost.



Total hip arthroplasty (THA) and total knee arthroplasty (TKA) can be associated with significant blood loss that in some cases requires transfusion. The incidence of transfusion ranges from 16% to 37% in patients who undergo THA and from 11% to 21% in patients who undergo TKA.1-3 Allogeneic blood transfusions have been associated with several risks (transfusion-related acute lung injury, hemolytic reactions, immunologic reactions, fluid overload, renal failure, infections), increased cost, and longer hospital length of stay (LOS).4-7 With improved patient outcomes the ultimate goal, blood-conserving strategies designed to decrease blood loss and transfusions have been adopted as a standard in successful joint replacement programs.

Tranexamic acid (TXA), an antifibrinolytic agent, has become a major component of blood conservation management after THA and TKA. TXA stabilizes clots at the surgical site by inhibiting plasminogen activation and thereby blocking fibrinolysis.8 The literature supports intravenous (IV) TXA as effective in significantly reducing blood loss and transfusion rates in elective THA and TKA.9,10 However, data on increased risk of thrombotic events with IV TXA in both THA and TKA are conflicting.11,12 Topical TXA is thought to have an advantage over IV TXA in that it provides a higher concentration of drug at the surgical site and is associated with little systemic absorption.2,13Recent prospective randomized studies have compared the efficacy and safety of IV and topical TXA in THA and TKA.9,14 However, controversy remains because relatively few studies have compared these 2 routes of administration. In addition, healthcare–associated costs have come under increased scrutiny, and the cost of these treatments should be considered. More research is needed to determine which application is most efficacious and cost-conscious and poses the least risk to patients. Therefore, we conducted a study to compare the cost, efficacy, and safety of IV and topical TXA in primary THA and TKA.

Materials and Methods

Our Institutional Review Board approved this study. Patients who were age 18 years or older, underwent primary THA or TKA, and received IV or topical TXA between August 2013 and September 2014 were considered eligible for the study. For both groups, exclusion criteria were trauma service admission, TXA hypersensitivity, pregnancy, and concomitant use of IV and topical TXA.

We collected demographic data (age, sex, weight, height, body mass index), noted all transfusions of packed red blood cells, and recorded preoperative and postoperative hemoglobin (Hgb) levels and surgical drain outputs. We also recorded any complications that occurred within 90 days after surgery: deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism (PE), cardiac events, cerebrovascular events, and wound drainage. Wound drainage was defined as readmission to hospital or return to operating room for wound drainage caused by infection or hematoma. Postoperative care (disposition, LOS, follow-up) was documented. Average cost of both IV and topical TXA administration was calculated using average wholesale price.

Use of IV TXA and use of topical TXA were compared in both THA and TKA. Patients in the IV TXA group received TXA in two 10-mg/kg doses with a maximum of 1 g per dose. The first IV dose was given before the incision, and the second was given 3 hours after the first. Patients in the topical TXA group underwent direct irrigation with 3 g of TXA in 100 mL of normal saline at the surgical site after closure of the deep fascia in THA and after closure of the knee arthrotomy in TKA. The drain remained occluded for 30 minutes after surgery. The wound was irrigated with topical TXA before wound closure in the THA group and before tourniquet release in the TKA group. TXA dosing was based on institutional formulary dosing restrictions and was consistent with best practices and current literature.3,9,14,15Primary outcomes measured for each cohort and treatment arm were Hgb levels (difference between preoperative levels and lowest postoperative levels 24 hours after surgery), blood loss, transfusion rates, and cost. Secondary outcomes were LOS and complications that occurred within 90 days after surgery (DVT, PE, cardiac events, cerebrovascular events, wound drainage).

Calculated blood loss was determined with equations described by Konig and colleagues,3 Good and colleagues,16 and Nadler and colleagues.17 Total calculated blood loss was based on the difference in Hgb levels before surgery and the lowest Hgb levels 24 hours after surgery:

Blood loss (mL) = 100 mL/dL × Hgbloss/Hgbi

Hgbloss = BV × (Hgbi – Hgbe) × 10 dL/L + Hgbt

= 0.3669 × Height3 (m) + 0.03219 × Weight (kg) + 0.6041 (for men)

= 0.3561 × Height3 (m) + 0.03308 × Weight (kg) + 0.1833 (for women)

Recommended for You

News & Commentary

Quizzes from MD-IQ

Research Summaries from ClinicalEdge

Next Article: