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The postoperative systemic inflammatory response after cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) is still an undesirable side-effect after cardiac surgery. It is most likely caused by blood contact with foreign surfaces and by the surgical trauma itself. However, the recirculation of activated shed mediastinal blood is another main cause of blood cell activation and cytokine release. Minimal invasive extracorporeal circulation (MiECC) comprises a completely closed circuit, coated surfaces and the separation of suction blood. We hypothesized that MiECC, with separated cell saved blood, would induce less of a systemic inflammatory response than MiECC with no cell-saver. The aim of this study was, therefore, to investigate the impact of cell washing shed blood from the operating field versus direct return to the ECC on the biomarkers for systemic inflammation.In the study, patients with MiECC and cell-saver were compared with the control group, patients with MiECC and direct re-transfusion of the drawn blood shed from the surgical field.High amounts of TNF-α (+ 120% compared to serum blood) were found in the shed blood itself, but a significant reduction was demonstrated with the use of a cell-saver (TNF-α ng/l post-ECC 10 min: 9.5±3.5 vs. 19.7±14.5, p<0.0001). The values for procalcitonin were not significantly increased in the control group (6h: 1.07±3.4 vs. 2.15±9.55, p=0.19) and lower for C-reactive protein (CRP) (24h: 147.1±64.0 vs.134.4±52.4 p=0.28).The use of a cell-saver and the processing of shed blood as an integral part of MiECC significantly reduces the systemic cytokine load. We, therefore, recommend the integration of cell-saving devices in MiECC to reduce the perioperative inflammatory response.