Platelets and leucocytes are important effector cells of the haemostatic and inflammatory responses to tissue injury. To investigate the effects of surgical trauma on platelet activation (assessed by measuring levels of P-selectin and β-thromboglobulin), leucocyte activation (CD11b expression) and leucocyte-platelet interactions (leucocyte-platelet complexes), 30 patients undergoing primary hip arthroplasty were studied before and at the end of surgery, and on days 1 and 10 post-operatively, using a whole-blood flow cytometry assay. The inflammatory response was followed by measurement of the levels of C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 in plasma, and the activation of coagulation was monitored by determination of prothrombin fragment 1+2 levels. On day 1 post-operatively a significantly increased expression of CD11b on monocytes was noted, but no direct correlation was found between monocyte activation and interleukin-6 production or C-reactive protein at this time point. The percentage of monocyte-platelet and neutrophil-platelet complexes was markedly increased on day 10 post-operatively compared with pre-operative levels, and levels of these complexes were significantly positively correlated with β-thromboglobulin levels. Activation of coagulation (prothrombin fragment 1+2) on day 10 post-operatively was positively correlated with the extent of surgical trauma (duration of surgery, amount of blood loss) and with the increase in platelet activation (β-thromboglobulin). In conclusion, hip arthroplasty induces platelet and coagulation activation, and also an inflammatory response that is maintained for more than 10 days post-operatively. This indicates an interaction between the immune and the haemostatic systems in the post-operative phase after hip arthroplasty.

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