Blood transfusion has well‐documented adverse effects. As part of a blood conservation initiative at our center, we began routine use of cell saver for all congenital heart surgery performed on cardiopulmonary bypass since 2014.
This study aimed to compare transfusion rates prior to, and in the first and second year after this initiative. We hypothesized that cell saver use would decrease transfusion requirements in second year after use of the cell saver compared to the pre cell saver group.
Consecutive patients under 18 years undergoing congenital heart surgery on cardiopulmonary bypass were retrospectively analyzed as 3 one‐year cohorts defined above. We excluded patients who required mechanical support or reoperation at index admission. Baseline characteristics, and use of blood intraoperatively and postoperatively were compared between groups.
The 3 groups had similar baseline characteristics. Blood use was significantly lower in year 2 after cell saver initiation as compared to the pre cell saver group both intra‐ and postoperatively. The median difference in volume of intraoperative blood transfusion was lower by 138 mL/m2 (−266, −10 mL/m2) in year 2 when compared to the pre cell saver group. Similarly, the proportion of subjects requiring red blood cell transfusion postoperatively on day of surgery was lower by 10% (−15%, −6%).
Standardized use of cell saver significantly decreased perioperative blood use in children undergoing cardiac surgery at our center. A risk‐adjusted transfusion threshold for children undergoing heart surgery needs to be developed to further decrease exposure to blood products and associated costs.