An Adjusted Calculation Model Allows for Reduced Protamine Doses without Increasing Blood Loss in Cardiac Surgery

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Heparin dosage for anticoagulation during cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) is commonly calculated based on the patient's body weight. The protamine-heparin ratio used for heparin reversal varies widely among institutions (0.7–1.3 mg protamine/100 IU heparin). Excess protamine may impair coagulation. With an empirically developed algorithm, the HeProCalc program, heparin, and protamine doses are calculated during the procedure. The primary aim was to investigate whether HeProCalc-based dosage of heparin could reduce protamine use compared with traditional dosages. The secondary aim was to investigate whether HeProCalc-based dosage of protamine affected postoperative bleeding.

Patients and Methods

We consecutively randomized 40 patients into two groups. In the control group, traditional heparin and protamine doses, based on body weight alone, were given. In the treatment group, the HeProCalc program was used, which calculated the initial heparin bolus dose from weight, height, and baseline activated clotting time and the protamine dose at termination of CPB.


We analyzed the results from 37 patients, after exclusion of three patients. Equal doses of heparin were given in both groups, whereas significantly lower mean doses of protamine were given in the treatment group versus control group (211 ± 56 vs. 330 ± 61 mg, p < 0.001). Postoperative bleeding was less in the HeProCalc group (280 ± 229 mL) as compared with the control group (649 ± 279 mL). However, this difference was not found statistically significant (p = 0.074).


HeProCalc-based dosage of heparin and protamine allowed for reduced protamine use after CPB compared with when conventional calculations were used. Furthermore, HeProCalc-based regimen for heparin reversal suggested less postoperative bleeding, although the difference between the groups was not statistically significant.

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