Outcome of Jehovah's Witnesses after adult cardiac surgery: systematic review and meta-analysis of comparative studies

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The objective was to evaluate the early outcome after adult cardiac surgery in Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) compared with controls not refusing blood transfusions.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS:

A literature review was performed through PubMed, Scopus, and Google Scholar to identify any comparative study evaluating the outcome of JWs and patients not refusing blood transfusion after adult cardiac surgery.

RESULTS:

Six studies comparing the outcome of 564 JWs and 903 controls fulfilled the inclusion criteria of this study. All series included a matched control cohort. Baseline characteristics of these two cohorts were similar, but JWs had higher hemoglobin (Hb) levels as reported in three studies. Pooled analysis of postoperative outcomes showed that JWs had higher postoperative levels of Hb (data from four studies: mean, 11.5 g/L vs. 9.8 g/L; p < 0.001) and significantly less postoperative blood loss (mean, 402 mL vs. 826 mL; p < 0.001) compared to controls. JWs and controls had similar early outcome. However, JWs had a nonsignificant trend toward decreased early mortality (2.6% vs. 3.6%; p = 0.318), reoperation for bleeding (3.2% vs. 4.7%; p = 0.070), atrial fibrillation (9.9% vs. 14.3%; p = 0.056), stroke (2.2% vs. 3.1%; p = 0.439), myocardial infarction (0.4% vs. 1.4%; p = 0.203), and length of stay in the intensive care unit (1.5 days vs. 2.0 days; p = 0.081).

CONCLUSION:

JWs undergoing adult cardiac surgery have a nonsignificant trend toward better early outcome than controls receiving or not blood transfusions. The suboptimal quality of available studies prevents conclusive results on the possible benefits of a transfusion-free strategy in patients not refusing blood transfusion.

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