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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2004 Dec;128(6):860-5.

Cold blood cardioplegia versus cold crystalloid cardioplegia: a prospective randomized study of 1440 patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting.

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  • 1Oslo Heart Center, Box 2684, St Hanshaugen, 0131 Oslo, Norway.



A large number of experimental studies have indicated that blood cardioplegia might be superior to crystalloid cardioplegia for myocardial protection during ischemic arrest. However, no prospectively randomized studies of large patient series have been undertaken to prove potential differences in clinical course.


Over a 52-month period, all patients undergoing on-pump coronary artery bypass operated on by 2 surgeons were prospectively randomized to receive either cold crystalloid cardioplegia (group C) or cold blood cardioplegia (group B) during aortic crossclamping.


Altogether, 1440 patients aged 37 to 89 years (median, 66 years) entered the study (group C, n = 719; group B, n = 721). The groups were comparable in all major demographic, preoperative, and operative variables. The clinical course turned out to be nearly identical for both groups. No statistically significant differences were seen concerning spontaneous sinus rhythm after aortic declamping, use of inotropic drugs or intra-aortic balloon pumping, postoperative ventilatory support, bleeding and rate of allogeneic blood transfusions, perioperative myocardial infarction, episodes of atrial fibrillation, stroke or minor neurologic dysfunction, renal function, infections, physical rehabilitation, or mortality. Also, in subgroups of patients at higher operative risk (female sex, age >70 years, unstable angina, diabetes, emergency operation, ejection fraction <0.50, crossclamping time >50 minutes, and EuroSCORE >4), no statistically significant differences could be demonstrated between the groups.


There were no significant differences whether myocardial protection was performed with cold blood cardioplegia or cold crystalloid cardioplegia during aortic crossclamping in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting. The extra costs related to blood cardioplegia might be saved.

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