We have assessed the effect of the donation of autologous blood and the preoperative level of haemoglobin on the prevalence of postoperative thromboembolism in 2043 patients who had a total hip arthroplasty. The level of haemoglobin was determined seven to ten days before surgery and all patients had venography of the operated leg on the fifth postoperative day. The number of patients who had donated autologous blood (1037) was similar to that who had not (1006).

A significant decrease in the incidence of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) was noted in those who had donated blood preoperatively (9.0%) compared with those who had not (13.5%) (p = 0.003). For all patients, the lower the preoperative level of haemoglobin the less likely it was that a postoperative DVT would develop.

Of those who had donated blood, 0.3% developed a postoperative pulmonary embolism compared with 0.7% in those who had not, but this difference was not statistically significant. No significant difference was found in the requirements for transfusion between the two groups.

  • Received September 13, 1999.
  • Accepted February 20, 2001.