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Ann Thorac Surg. 2001 Mar;71(3):769-76.

Lowest hematocrit on bypass and adverse outcomes associated with coronary artery bypass grafting. Northern New England Cardiovascular Disease Study Group.

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  • 1Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire 03756, USA.



Cardiac surgery patients' hematocrits frequently fall to low levels during cardiopulmonary bypass.


We investigated the association between nadir hematocrit and in-hospital mortality and other adverse outcomes in a consecutive series of 6,980 patients undergoing isolated coronary artery bypass graft surgery. The lowest hematocrit during cardiopulmonary bypass was recorded for each patient. Patients were divided into categories based on their lowest hematocrit. Women had a lower hematocrit during bypass than men but both sexes are represented in each category.


After adjustment for preoperative differences in patient and disease characteristics, the lowest hematocrit during cardiopulmonary bypass was significantly associated with increased risk of in-hospital mortality, intra- or postoperative placement of an intraaortic balloon pump and return to cardiopulmonary bypass after attempted separation. Smaller patients and those with a lower preoperative hematocrit are at higher risk of having a low hematocrit during cardiopulmonary bypass.


Female patients and patients with smaller body surface area may be more hemodiluted than larger patients. Minimizing intraoperative anemia may result in improved outcomes for this subgroup of patients.

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