The efficacy and safety of epinephrine for postoperative bleeding in total joint arthroplasty: A PRISMA-compliant meta-analysis

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Total joint arthroplasty (TJA) usually results in postoperative bleeding. Some randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and nonrandomized controlled trials (non-RCTs) have been performed to evaluate the effects of epinephrine on postoperative bleeding after TJA. However, this remained controversial about the efficacy and safety of epinephrine for postoperative bleeding in TJA. The objective of our meta-analysis was to compare the overall effect and safety of epinephrine and placebo for postoperative bleeding in TJA.


PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library were searched to identify potentially relevant articles. RCTs or non-RCTs involving epinephrine and placebo for blood loss in total knee arthroplasty or total hip arthroplasty were included. Our study was performed based on the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses statement. RevMan v5.3 was used to analyze the relevant data.


Four RCTs and 1 non-RCT involving 646 participants met the inclusion criteria. The overall pooled results from meta-analysis demonstrated that compared with control groups, epinephrine groups could significantly reduce the postoperative bleeding volume (mean difference [MD] = −168.42, 95% confidence interval [CI]: −272.37 to −64.47, P = 0.001). There was no significant difference in intraoperative bleeding volume between epinephrine and control groups (MD = −12.89, 95% CI: −53.45 to 27.69, P = 0.53). No significant difference was found between 2 groups in terms of postoperative hemoglobin loss (MD = −0.28, 95% CI: −0.66 to 0.10, P = 0.15). Compared with the control groups, no statistically significant difference was found in terms of postoperative transfusion rate in epinephrine groups (relative risk [RR] 0.86, 95% CI: 0.64–1.15, P = 0.31). In addition, the results of the meta-analysis also indicated no significant difference in terms of the incidence rate of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) between 2 groups (RR 0.28, 95% CI: 0.05–1.64, P = 0.16).


The meta-analysis showed that epinephrine could significantly reduce postoperative bleeding volume in TJA without increasing the incidence of DVT. However, there was no significant reduction in intraoperative bleeding volume, postoperative hemoglobin loss, and transfusion rate after the administration of epinephrine.


In this study, a higher heterogeneity and a risk of selection bias may be present in postoperative hemoglobin loss. In addition, the sample size of the included studies was too small, so our findings need to be further validated with more high-quality and larger scale RCTs in the future.

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