Tuesday, January 29, 2019 (HealthDay News) – Cardiac surgery patients may do better if they have their own blood "recycled" and returned to them during the procedure, a preliminary study suggests.
The study focused on so-called "intraoperative autologous blood donation" – where patients have some blood removed at the start of surgery for their own use. The goal is to avoid blood transfusions from donors during surgeries, where patients often have a lot of bleeding.
Among the approximately 700 cardiac surgery patients studied, the researchers found that the tactic appeared to reduce blood transfusions. Patients who donated also had a shorter hospital stay.
This type of blood donation is already done in some hospitals, though experts say it's hard to say how common it is.
Dr. Robbin Cohen, a surgeon at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, said he has been using the approach for a number of years.
It is simple and, in his experience, beneficial, said Cohen, who was not involved in the new study.
That said, the findings do not prove that self-donation during heart surgery is the way to go, according to Cohen. The study analyzed the patients' records; It was not a trial that randomized patients to donate or not.
"What you need is well-designed prospective trials," Cohen said.
But, he added, "this study is a good start. The suggestion for benefit is there."
The results were presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, which takes place this week in San Diego. The studies presented at the meetings are generally considered preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Dr. Eric Zimmermann led the research while at New York-Presbyterian Queens Hospital (NYPQ) in New York.
He agreed that more studies are needed to stimulate the wider use of self-donation during cardiac surgery. It's different, he noted, from another practice known as a blood bank – where patients have blood drawn and stored weeks before surgery, to use in case they need a transfusion.
Zimmermann, who is now a researcher at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, pointed out some advantages of intraoperative tactics: it eliminates the cost of the blood bank. In addition, the quality of the accumulated blood degrades a bit during storage, he said.