Potential value of transfusion protocols in cardiac surgery

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Abstract

Purpose of review

On the one hand, cardiac and aortic surgery is associated with a high rate of allogeneic blood transfusion. On the other hand, both bleeding and allogeneic blood transfusion is associated with increased morbidity, mortality, and hospital costs in cardiac and aortic surgery. This article reviews the current literature between 1995 and 2012 dealing with transfusion protocols in cardiovascular surgery. The 16 studies fitting these search criteria have evaluated the impact of the implementation of ROTEM/TEG based coagulation management algorithms on transfusion requirement and outcome in overall 8507 cardiovascular surgical patients.

Recent findings

The use of point-of-care (POC) transfusion and coagulation management algorithms based on viscoelastic tests such as thromboelastometry (ROTEM) and thrombelastography (TEG) in combination with POC platelet function tests such as whole blood impedance aggregometry (Multiplate) have been shown to be associated with reduced allogeneic blood transfusion requirements, reduced incidence of thrombotic/thromboembolic and transfusion-related adverse events, and improved outcomes in cardiac surgery.

Summary

Implementation of POC algorithms including a comprehensive bundle of POC diagnostics (thromboelastometry and whole blood impedance aggregometry) in combination with first-line therapy using immediately available specific coagulation factor concentrates (fibrinogen and prothrombin complex concentrate) and defining strict indications, calculated dosages, and clear sequences for each haemostatic intervention seems to be complex but most effective in reducing perioperative transfusion requirements and has been shown to be associated with a decreased incidence of thrombotic/thromboembolic events, transfusion-related adverse events, as well as with improved patients’ outcomes including 6-month mortality.

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