10:35 AM

Study: Black patients receive transfusions for TJA at higher rates than white patients

Orthopedics Today speaks to Stephen Lyman, PhD, associate scientist at HSS about a study that shows that shows black patients who underwent total knee arthroplasty had significantly higher rates of transfusions compared with white patients. 

To assess potential disparities in transfusion rates for total joint arthroplasty between Black and white patients, researchers retrospectively analyzed data from 5,435 patients who underwent TKA and 2,105 patients who underwent THA from 2013 to 2021. According to the study, 67.1% of patients who underwent TKA and 69.8% of patients who underwent THA were white. Overall, transfusion rates were 2.9% in the TKA group and 3.1% in the THA group.

Researchers noted transfusion rates declined during the study period. “However, the rate of decline is not proportional across demographic groups, and being Black is associated with a significantly increased risk of transfusion for TKA patients but not for THA patients,” the investigators wrote. Black patients had higher rates of transfusion for TKA (5.1% vs. 1.8%) and THA (4.1% vs. 2.7%) compared with white patients despite similar hemoglobin levels between the groups.

“As someone who has spent much of my career evaluating disparities at the health system level, it is heartening to see that electronic health records have become robust enough to add important clinical detail to large-scale statistics analyses. In the case of Shelby H. Meckstroth, MPH and colleagues, the addition of hemoglobin and creatinine levels to a study of health disparities in joint arthroplasty allows for a more reliable estimate of the isolated effect of race and/or ethnicity. As a result, we can see that Black patients were more likely to receive a transfusion after joint arthroplasty than their white counterparts independent of clinical characteristics, such as comorbidities, hemoglobin levels or creatinine levels. This suggests that wide racial disparities continue to exist despite clear clinical practice guidelines. Whether this reflects conscious or unconscious bias (or an, as yet, unmeasured or unmeasurable bit of clinical nuance) remains to be investigated by future study teams,” said Dr. Lyman. 

Read the full article at healio.com.