Our aim was to determine the total blood loss associated with surgery for fracture of the hip and to identify risk factors for increased blood loss. We prospectively studied 546 patients with hip fracture. The total blood loss was calculated on the basis of the haemoglobin difference, the number of transfusions and the estimated blood volume. The hidden blood loss, in excess of that observed during surgery, varied from 547 ml (screws/ pins) to 1473 ml (intramedullary hip nail and screw) and was significantly associated with medical complications and increased hospital stay. The type of surgery, treatment with aspirin, intra-operative hypotension and gastro-intestinal bleeding or ulceration were all independent predictors of blood loss.
We conclude that total blood loss after surgery for hip fracture is much greater than that observed intra-operatively. Frequent post-operative measurements of haemoglobin are necessary to avoid anaemia.