Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy September 2017, Volume 25, Issue 9, pp 2849–2857

The effects of tourniquet use in total knee arthroplasty: a randomized, controlled trial

Wang, K., Ni, S., Li, Z. et al.


Tourniquets are still widely used in total knee arthroplasty (TKA), although they may be associated with several adverse effects. An observer-blinded, randomized, controlled trial was performed to evaluate the effects of tourniquet use in TKA.



Fifty participants who underwent staged bilateral TKA were recruited for this study. The first-side TKA was randomly allocated to either long-duration tourniquet use or short-duration tourniquet use followed by a 3-month washout period and crossover to the other tourniquet strategy for the opposite-side TKA. Blood loss was monitored perioperatively. The operating time, allogeneic blood transfusion rate, thigh pain, knee pain, limb swelling, clinical outcome as measured by the Likert-type Western Ontario and McMaster University (WOMAC) score, straight leg raising and knee active range of motion (ROM) were also recorded.



The long-duration tourniquet group exhibited reduced total blood loss [−99.1 ml, 95 % confidence interval (CI) −168.1 to −30.1, P = 0.0411] and intraoperative blood loss (−225.2 ml, 95 % CI −369.5 to −80.9, P = 0.0071) compared with the short-duration tourniquet group. However, there were greater postoperative blood loss (69.6 ml, 95 % CI 21.1 to 118.2, P = 0.0282) and hidden blood loss (52.8 ml, 95 % CI 10.5 to 95.1, P = 0.0332) in the long-duration tourniquet group. The short-duration tourniquet group showed better outcomes for thigh and knee pain, limb swelling, WOMAC score at 6-week follow-up, straight leg raising and knee ROM. Similar allogeneic blood transfusion rates were observed for both groups.



Total and intraoperative blood losses were reduced with the long-duration tourniquet use, whereas the short-duration tourniquet use would reduce postoperative and hidden blood losses without increasing the allogeneic blood transfusion rate. In addition, short-duration tourniquet use would result in faster recovery and less pain during the early rehabilitation period following TKA.


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