Human albumin in extracorporeal prime: effect on platelet function and bleeding

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Purpose: Synthetic starches have been positioned as an equivalent substitute for human albumin in extracorporeal prime, with both providing osmotic and oncotic pressure. Another effect of albumin is its ability to coat the synthetic surfaces of an extracorporeal circuit with a biopassivating protein monolayer. Whether this protein biopassivation has any benefit to the patient, assessed by platelet count, platelet function and 24-hour bleeding rate, is considered.Methods: Patients presenting for coronary artery bypass at a Canadian tertiary care hospital were randomized into two groups until a final study size of 20 patients was obtained. The Study Group received 2.5 g of human albumin in the extracorporeal prime and the Control Group remained protein free. Both groups included Voluven 6% as a synthetic starch. Blood samples were obtained at three intervals; Pre-bypass, During bypass (30 minutes after initiation of bypass), and Post-bypass. These samples were assayed for platelet function, platelet count and hemoglobin. Chest tube drainage over a 24-hour period was monitored.Results: Platelet count was significantly higher in the During sample in the Study Group (196 ± 56.5 × 109/ml versus 160 ± 18.5 × 109/ml, p<0.05), however, this difference was no longer significant with the Post-bypass sample (135 ±36.0 × 109/mL versus 127 ±19 × 109/mL). Platelet function assays (PFA) showed no significant differences. Chest tube drainage after 24 hours was significantly lower in the Study Group (586 ± 131.8 ml/24 h versus 741 ± 272.5 ml/24 h, p<0.05).Conclusions: Human albumin can passivate the synthetic surfaces of the extracorporeal circuit, which is supported by observations of preserved platelet count and reduced chest tube drainage. Although some statistically significant benefits were observed, the practical benefits of passivating an extracorporeal circuit with human albumin may be minimal.

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