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Ann Thorac Surg. 2013 Aug;96(2):478-85. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2013.03.015. Epub 2013 May 11.

Major bleeding, transfusions, and anemia: the deadly triad of cardiac surgery.

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1
Department of Cardiothoracic, IRCCS Policlinico San Donato, Milan, Italy. cardioanestesia@virgilio.it

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Postoperative bleeding is common after cardiac surgery. Major bleeding (MB) is a determinant of red blood cell (RBC) transfusion, especially in patients with preoperative anemia. Preoperative anemia and RBC transfusions are recognized risk factors for operative mortality. The present study investigates the role of MB as an independent determinant of operative mortality in cardiac surgery.

METHODS:

A single-center retrospective study based on the institutional database of cardiac surgery in the period 2000-2012 was conducted. Sixteen thousand one hundred fifty-four (16,154) consecutive adult patients undergoing cardiac surgery were analyzed. The impact of postoperative bleeding and MB on operative (30 days) mortality was analyzed univariately and after correction for preoperative anemia, RBC transfusions, and other confounders.

RESULTS:

Postoperative bleeding was significantly (p < 0.001) associated with operative mortality, both in univariate and multivariable models. The main complications associated with MB were thromboembolic complications, infections, and surgical reexploration. In a multivariable model, MB remained an independent predictor of operative mortality (odds ratio, 3.45; 95% confidence interval, 2.78 to 4.28). Preoperative anemia and RBC transfusions coexist in the model, acting with a multiplying effect when associated with MB.

CONCLUSIONS:

Major bleeding is per se a risk factor for operative mortality. However, its deleterious effects are strongly enhanced by RBC transfusions and, to a lesser extent, preoperative anemia. Major bleeding is a partially modifiable risk factor, and adequate preemptive and treatment strategies should be applied to limit this event.

KEYWORDS:

18

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