Kathy McKay, RN
Department of Nursing and Patient Care Services,
Medical Surgical Nursing Division,
University of Iowa Hospitals
First Published: 1992
Last Revised: March 2004
Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed
If you are scheduled for joint repIacement surgery, one of your concerns may be
the safe replacement of your lost blood. Instead of receiving donor blood, you
may be a candidate for auto-transfusion. Auto-transfusion means you receive your
own blood. This can be done in three different ways.
The OrthoPAT® System is currently available for use in our hospital. It applies a gentle
vacuum suction to the wound drain. The blood from the surgical site is collected, filtered, and washed. Any blood safe to give back to the patient after this washing is separated by the achine and sent into its own bag. When enough blood is collected, it is reinfused back to the patient.
- Before surgery: You may schedule appointments and donate your own
blood. This is known as autologous blood. It will be stored and reinfused
as needed during or after your surgery. Your body will replace your blood
cells between donations.
- During surgery: Blood lost from your surgical site may be saved,
washed, and replaced while in surgery. This is known as cell saving. While
many orthopaedic surgical sites shed little blood during surgery, a significant
amount may be lost following surgery.
- After surgery: In many orthopaedic patients, a wound drain is placed
in the surgical site to reduce bruising, swelling, and the risk of infection.
Drains are important to aid in healing. Some of the blood collected from the wound
drain can be reinfused into the patient in the recovery room or on the nursing
This system helps to return your lost blood to your circulation quickly and
efficiently. Your own blood is easily accepted by your body. It is a perfect
match. While there are always some risks with reinfusion, each transfusion is
carefully monitored. The reinfusion system is a safe way to help you in your
recovery. You supply the best blood to aid in your healing--your own.
Discuss the possibilities of auto-transfusion with your physician. In most
cases, auto-transfusion is possible.