Is routine blood typing and screening necessary before primary total hip or knee arthroplasty in the 21st century?


Blood loss warranting transfusion is a relatively rare complication of major-joint arthroplasty procedures like total knee arthroplasty (TKA) and total hip arthroplasty (THA). Despite this rarity, pre-transfusion testing (blood typing, screening, and cross-matching) has become routine. We sought to determine if such routine testing is necessary for patients who undergo a primary TKA or THA by (1) measuring the current rate of intraoperative transfusions in primary TKA and THA patients, (2) identifying risk factors for transfusions, and (3) calculating the costs of such blood typing and screening.

Study Methods

We retrospectively examined the records of 992 patients who underwent primary TKA, THA, or unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA) to identify patients requiring intra-operative or in-hospital postoperative transfusions. Demographic and baseline clinical and laboratory data also were collected and analyzed to identify predictors of transfusion. Cost analysis was performed.


The rate of intraoperative transfusion was 1.7% (17/992 patients), with rates of 2.1%, 1.6%, and 0% for TKA, THA, and UKA respectively. The in-hospital transfusion rate was 10.3%, with corresponding postoperative transfusion rates of 9.1%, 12.9%, and 2%. The only baseline variable significantly linked to transfusions on multivariable analysis was preoperative hemoglobin level, with preoperative Hgb <12?g/dl predictive of transfusions in both TKA (p = .02) and THA (p = .024) patients.


Our study suggests that pre-transfusion testing for all patients undergoing primary UKA, TKA or THA is unnecessary. We recommend reserving routine pre-transfusion testing for patients with preoperative hemoglobin levels below 12?g/dl.