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J Cardiothorac Surg. 2007 Jul 6;2:32.

Use of activated recombinant factor VII for severe coagulopathy post ventricular assist device or orthotopic heart transplant.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S Euclid Ave, St Louis, MO 63110, USA.



Ventricular assist devices(VAD) implantation/removal is a complex surgical procedure with perioperative bleeding complications occurring in nearly half of the cases. Recombinant activated factor VII (rFVIIa) has been used off-label to control severe hemorrhage in surgery and trauma. We report here our experience with rFVIIa as a rescue therapy to achieve hemostasis in patients undergoing orthotopic heart transplant (OHT) and/or VAD implantation.


A retrospective review was conducted from Jan 03 to Aug 05 for patients who received rFVIIa for the management of intractable bleeding unresponsive to standard hemostatic blood component therapy. Blood loss and the quantity of blood products, prior to, and for at least 12 hours after, administration of rFVIIa were recorded.


Mean patient age was 53, (38-64 yrs), mean dose of rFVIIa administered was 78.3 microg/kg (24-189 microg/kg) in 1-3 doses. All patients received the drug either intraoperatively or within 6 hours of arrival in ICU. Mean transfusion requirements and blood loss were significantly reduced after rFVIIa administration (PRBC's; 16.9 +/- 13.3 to 7.1 +/- 6.9 units, FFP; 13.1 +/- 8.2 to 4.1 +/- 4.9 units, platelets; 4.0 +/- 2.8 to 2.1 +/- 2.2 units, p < 0.04 for all). 5 patients expired including 3 with thromboembolic cause. One patient developed a lower extremity arterial thrombus, and another deep vein thrombosis.


In this review, there was a significant decrease in transfusion requirement and blood loss after rFVIIa administration. Although, 5/17 developed thromboembolic complications, these patients may have been at higher risk based on the multiple modality therapy used to manage intractable bleeding. Nevertheless, the exact role of rFVIIa with respect to development of thromboembolic complications cannot be clearly determined. Further investigation is needed to determine rFVIIa's safety and its effectiveness in improving postoperative morbidity and mortality.

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