Bipolar Sealer Devices Used in Posterior Spinal Fusion for Neuromuscular Scoliosis Reduce Blood Loss and Transfusion Requirements

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Background:Reducing perioperative blood loss and the need for transfusions in patients undergoing spinal surgery is especially important for those with neuromuscular disorders. These patients require extensive spino-pelvic exposure and are often medically fragile. We have used Amicar to decrease blood loss since 2001. As an effort to further reduce blood loss and transfusions, we use a bipolar sealer device (Aquamantys) as an adjunct to electrocautery. We present the results of our first 64 neuromuscular patients to show the efficacy of the device.Methods:Using a prospectively maintained database we reviewed the operative time, estimated perioperative blood loss, cell saver use, and intraoperative and postoperative transfusion rate in patients who underwent posterior spinal fusion for neuromuscular scoliosis. Sixty-four patients were identified who fit these criteria since the use of the bipolar sealer device was instituted.We compared these patients with a control group of the preceding 65 patients in whom this device was not used for hemostasis. All patients, including those in the study group, received Amicar (infusion of 100 mg/kg over 15 to 20 min, then 10 mg/kg/h throughout the remainder of the procedure). The surgical technique did not differ between the 2 groups.Results:Baseline characteristics between the 2 groups were similar except for the number of patients having an all-screw construct which was larger in the investigational group (25% vs. 8%, P=0.03). There were no significant differences in operative time or duration of hospital stay. Intraoperative blood loss was lower in the study group (741 mL) as compared with the control group (1052 mL, P=0.003). Total perioperative blood loss, however, showed no significant difference. Thirty-five (55%) patients in the study group and 50 (77%) patients in the control group required additional intraoperative or postoperative transfusions (P=0.01). The number of packed red cell units transfused per patient was 0.81 in the study group and 1.57 in the control group (P=0.001). Although the intraoperative cell saver transfusion was same, the total blood volume transfused, which includes cell saver and any other transfusions, was significantly lower in the study group, 425 mL versus 671 mL (P=0.002).Conclusions:Use of a bipolar sealer device in posterior spinal fusion for neuromuscular scoliosis significantly reduced intraoperative blood loss and transfusion rate when compared with a control group in this retrospective review.Level of Evidence:Level III—retrospective comparative study.

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