The use of blood conservation techniques is important in cardiac surgery as postoperative bleeding is common and allogeneic blood transfusion carries the risk of transfusion reactions and infection transmission. Erythropoietin with and without preoperative autologous blood donation is one of the modalities to avoid allogeneic blood transfusion. The objective of this review was to assess the effectiveness of erythropoietin in reducing the risk of exposure to allogeneic blood transfusion during or after cardiac surgery.Methods
A meta-analysis of 11 identified randomized controlled trials, reporting comparisons between erythropoietin and control, was undertaken. The primary outcome was the number of patients exposed to allogeneic blood transfusion during or after cardiac surgery.Results
Eleven studies, involving 708 patients, met the inclusion criteria for this review. In total, 471 patients were given erythropoietin, and 237 patients formed the control group. The administration of erythropoietin with and without preoperative autologous blood transfusion prior to cardiac surgery is associated with a significant risk reduction: RR = 0.28 (95% CI 0.18–0.44, P < 0.001) and RR = 0.53 (95% CI 0.32–0.88, P < 0.01), respectively.Conclusion
The administration of erythropoietin before cardiac surgery is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of exposure to allogeneic blood transfusion. Further studies are warranted to define the patients' subgroups that may benefit the most from EPO administration.