When given to joint replacement patients, the clotting drug tranexamic acid significantly reduces the need for transfusions without increasing the risk of complications, say researchers.
Their study, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at the cases of 872,000 patients who had total hip or knee replacements at 510 U.S. hospitals between 2006 and 2012. They determined that tranexamic acid was associated with reduction of up to 69% in the need for transfusions. Patients given doses of 2,000mg of the agent appeared to have the best results, though the study also included patients given doses of 1,000mg and 3,000mg. Tranexamic acid was also associated with lower ICU admission rates, shorter hospital stays and lower costs.
The authors recommend further studies designed to identify patients most likely to benefit from the drug, namely those with higher risks of bleeding. An accompanying editorial agrees, pointing out that there's still some uncertainty about the risk of vascular complications associated with tranexamic acid.