Ultrafiltration during cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) reduces fluid overload and inflammatory mediators in open-heart surgery and is thought to reduce the risk of red blood cell (RBC) transfusion. We evaluated its effectiveness in reducing RBC transfusions in a large population undergoing cardiac surgery, among patients in general as well as by gender.
We analyzed 40,650 propensity-matched adult cardiac surgery cases conducted over a 61-month period at 195 hospitals. We assessed the risk of intraoperative transfusion (⩾1 unit RBC) according to body surface area (BSA)-normalized ultrafiltration volume via mixed-effects binary logistic regression. Our statistical model controlled for 12 demographic and operative variables as well as for center level tendencies in ultrafiltration use and intraoperative RBC transfusion. In light of recent findings on gender and risk of transfusion, we also included an interaction effect between gender and ultrafiltration volume (UV).
Ultrafiltration was associated with an increased crude rate of RBC transfusion (32.1% vs. 28.1%, p<0.001), but equivalent crude median hematocrit change from first in operating room to nadir on bypass (−11% in both groups, p = 0.133). After controlling for patient, operative and site-level characteristics, we found no statistically significant effect on transfusion rate by volume of ultrafiltrate removed nor did we find statistical support for any gender-specific effect of ultrafiltration.
Ultrafiltration is not associated with a reduction of risk of RBC transfusion during cardiac surgery. The use of ultrafiltration as a method for reducing intraoperative RBC transfusion warrants further study.