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Transfusion. 2000 Jun;40(6):673-81.

Cost-effectiveness of epoetin and autologous blood donationin reducing allogeneic blood transfusions incoronary artery bypass graft surgery.

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  • 1Laboratory of Medical Informatics, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico Policlinico S. Matteo, Pavia, Italy.



Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery accounts for a substantial portion of all allogeneic units of blood transfused. Drugs and autologous blood donation (ABD) are alternative or adjunctive methods for reducing complications and costs induced by allogeneic blood transfusions. Recombinant human erythropoietin (epoetin) has the potential to decrease perioperative need for allogeneic blood during CABG, but its high cost calls for a careful economic evaluation before it can be recommended for widespread use.


A decision tree was used to compare a hypothetical strategy of no epoetin with one in which epoetin was utilized to control blood transfusion needs in CABG; each strategy was tested with and without ABD. The impact of these strategies on both the quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and costs ($US) was calculated.


Using epoetin alone and with ABD, respectively, avoided the transfusion of 0.61 and 1.35 units of allogeneic blood per patient and saved 0.000086 and 0.000146 QALYs per patient. This made cost-effectiveness (CE) higher than $7 million and $5 million for each QALY saved, respectively. ABD alone cost more than $1 million per QALY saved. If the risk of bacterial infections following allogeneic transfusions was included in the model, epoetin alone cost $6288 per QALY saved, while ABD, both alone and with epoetin, saved money.


On the basis of the existing evidence, neither of the blood-saving strategies modeled was a cost-effective means of avoiding the deleterious health effects of perioperative blood transfusions in CABG. However, if allogeneic blood-related infections were to be considered, both ABD and epoetin would be acceptable interventions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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