Measurement of total hemoglobin reduces red cell transfusion in hospitalized patients undergoing cardiac surgery: a retrospective database analysis

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Introduction:Historically, perioperative hemoglobin monitoring has relied on calculated saturation, using blood gas devices that measure plasma hematocrit (Hct). Co-oximetry, which measures total hemoglobin (tHb), yields a more comprehensive assessment of hemodilution. The purpose of this study was to examine the association of tHb measurement by co-oximetry and Hct, using conductivity with red blood cell (RBC) transfusion, length of stay (LOS) and inpatient costs in patients having major cardiac surgery.Methods:A retrospective study was conducted on patients who underwent coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) and/or valve replacement (VR) procedures from January 2014 to June 2016, using MedAssets discharge data. The patient population was sub-divided by the measurement modality (tHb and Hct), using detailed billing records and Current Procedural Terminology coding. Cost was calculated using hospital-specific cost-to-charge ratios. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to identify significant drivers of RBC transfusion and resource utilization.Results:The study population included 18,169 cardiovascular surgery patients. Hct-monitored patients accounted for 66% of the population and were more likely to have dual CABG and VR procedures (10.4% vs 8.9%, p=0.0069). After controlling for patient and hospital characteristics, as well as patient comorbidities, Hct-monitored patients had significantly higher RBC transfusion risk (OR=1.26, CI 1.15-1.38, p<0.0001), longer LOS (IRR=1.08, p<0.0001) and higher costs (IRR=1.15, p<0.0001) than tHb-monitored patients. RBC transfusions were a significant driver of LOS (IRR=1.25, p<0.0001) and cost (IRR=1.22, p<0.0001).Conclusions:tHb monitoring during cardiovascular surgery could offer a significant reduction in RBC transfusion, length of stay and hospital cost compared to Hct monitoring.

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