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March 2011

The Yin and Yang of Blood Transfusions in Cardiac Surgery

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Division of Cardiac Surgery, Department of Surgery, and Comprehensive Transplant Center, The Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus.

Arch Surg. 2011;146(3):357-358. doi:10.1001/archsurg.2011.31


Variation and Use of Blood Transfusion in Coronary Bypass Graft Surgery

Elliott Bennett-Guerrero, MD; Yue Zhao, PhD; Sean M. O’Brien, PhD; T. B. Ferguson Jr, MD; Eric D. Peterson, MD, MPH; James S. Gammie, MD; Howard K. Song, MD, PhD

Context:   Perioperative blood transfusions are costly and have safety concerns. As a result, there have been multiple initiatives to reduce transfusion use. However, the degree to which perioperative transfusion rates vary among hospitals is unknown.

Objective:   To assess hospital-level variation in use of allogeneic red blood cell (RBC), fresh-frozen plasma, and platelet transfusions in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery.

Design, Setting, and Patients:   An observational cohort of 102 470 patients undergoing primary isolated CABG surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass during calendar year 2008 at 798 sites in the United States, contributing data to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Adult Cardiac Surgery Database.

Main Outcome Measures:   Perioperative (intraoperative and postoperative) transfusion of RBCs, fresh-frozen plasma, and platelets.

Results:   At hospitals performing at least 100 on-pump CABG operations (82 446 cases at 408 sites), the rates of blood transfusion ranged from 7.8% to 92.8% for RBCs, 0% to 97.5% for fresh-frozen plasma, and 0.4% to 90.4% for platelets. Multivariable analysis including data from all 798 sites (102 470 cases) revealed that after adjustment for patient-level risk factors, hospital transfusion rates varied by geographic location (P = .007), academic status (P = .03), and hospital volume (P < .001). However, these 3 hospital characteristics combined only explained 11.1% of the variation in hospital risk-adjusted RBC usage. Case mix explained 20.1% of the variation between hospitals in RBC usage.

Conclusion:   Wide variability occurred in the rates of transfusion of RBCs and other blood products, independent of case mix, among patients undergoing CABG surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass in US hospitals in an adult cardiac surgical database.

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