Scientific American, October 19, 2010

For the recent trial of orthopedic operations researchers studied the transfusion rates during surgery for 327 patients, about half of whom were assigned to a standard care group whereas the remainder had their hemoglobin levels monitored during surgery using the new device.

The number of patients needing transfusions during surgery was small (seven in the standard-care group and one in the real-time monitoring group), so researchers dug back through the records to find a matched cohort from six months before of patients under standard transmission protocol. They found that about the same percentage of patients (4.6 percent) had required transfusion during surgery. Given the slight difference in the number of transfusions in the trial's standard care population, the retrospective comparison "gave us some confidence" that the difference was a result of the monitoring technique rather than just a fluke, Ehrenfeld says.

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