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Transfusion. 2014 Mar;54(3):708-16. doi: 10.1111/trf.12346. Epub 2013 Jul 22.

Effectiveness of a cardiac surgery-specific transfusion protocol.

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Department of Cardiothoracic Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Isala Clinics Zwolle, Zwolle, The Netherlands; Department of Anesthesiology, Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.



Cardiac surgery is often complicated by excessive bleeding that is commonly treated with blood products. In the year 2009 a transfusion protocol was introduced specifically designed for cardiac surgery procedures. This study aims to evaluate the effect of this protocol on transfusion of blood products and the occurrence of clinical events.


This was a nonrandomized intervention study. The index group was transfused according to a tailor-made transfusion protocol (operation in 2009/2010) and the control group was transfused according to the Dutch national transfusion guideline (operation in 2007/2008). The primary outcome was mean number of units transfused and proportion of patients transfused. Secondary outcomes were in-hospital mortality, myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular accident or transient ischemic attack, renal injury or failure, rethoracotomy, and prolonged mechanical ventilation.


The control group comprised 2685 patients and the index group 2534 patients. The tailor-made transfusion protocol resulted in a decrease of patients transfused with red blood cells (RBCs) and fresh-frozen plasma (FFP) during surgery with odds ratio of 0.69 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.55-0.86) and 0.63 (95% CI, 0.46-0.86), respectively. Fewer myocardial infarctions were observed in the index group with OR of 0.67 (95% CI, 0.47-0.96).


The cardiac surgery-specific transfusion protocol resulted in fewer patients transfused with RBCs and FFP and a lower incidence of myocardial infarction. This tailor-made protocol has led to a more judicious use of blood products and is a basis for further refinement of coagulation management during cardiac surgery procedures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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