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Aprotinin reduces blood loss in many orthopedic procedures. In posterior lumbar spine fusion, blood loss results primarily from large vein bleeding and also occurs after the wound is closed. Seventy-two patients undergoing posterior lumbar spine fusion were randomly assigned to large-dose aprotinin therapy or placebo. All patients donated three units of packed red blood cells (RBCs) preoperatively. Postoperative blood loss was harvested from the surgical wound in patients undergoing two- and/or three-level fusion for reinfusion. The target hematocrit for RBC transfusion was 26% if tolerated. Total (intraoperative and 24 h postoperative) blood loss, transfusion requirements, and percentage of transfused patients per treatment group were significantly smaller in the aprotinin group than in the placebo group (1935 ± 873 vs 2809 ± 973 mL per patient [P = 0.007]; 42 vs 95 packed RBCs per group [P = 0.001]; 40% vs 81% per group [P = 0.02]). Hematological assessments showed an identically significant (a) intraoperative increase in both thrombin-antithrombin III complexes (TAT) and in activated factor XII (XIIa) and (b) decrease in activated factor VII (VIIa), indicating a similar significant effect on coagulation in patients of both groups (P = 0.9 for intergroup comparisons of postoperative VIIa, XIIa, and TAT). Intraoperative activation of fibrinolysis was significantly less pronounced in the aprotinin group than in the placebo group (P < 0.0001 for intergroup comparison of postoperative D-dimer levels). No adverse drug effects (circulatory disturbances, deep venous thrombosis, alteration of serum creatinine) were detected. Although administered intraoperatively, aprotinin treatment dramatically reduced intraoperative and 24-h postoperative blood loss and autologous transfusion requirements but did not change homologous transfusion in posterior lumbar spine fusion.In our study, aprotinin therapy significantly decreased autologous, but not homologous, transfusion requirements in posterior lumbar spine fusion.