Overview of clinical efficacy and safety of pharmacologic strategies for blood conservation

  • Levy J
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Purpose. The pharmacologic management of hemostasis in patients undergoing surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass is discussed. Summary. Nearly 45 studies involving 7,000 patients have reported efficacy of aprotinin in blood conservation. Both in primary coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgeries and in repeat surgeries, aprotinin treatment significantly reduces the incidence of blood transfusions and the number of units of blood transfused. These effects have been observed for red blood cell, platelet, and other blood products. The safety of aprotinin treatment has been extensively evaluated in randomized clinical trials, in postmarketing databases, and in systematic reviews of the literature. Overall, data do not indicate that aprotinin treatment increases mortality, myocardial infarction, or renal failure. These findings are supported by the results of a recent meta-analysis of 35 studies in patients undergoing CABG surgery. In addition, the meta-analysis suggests that aprotinin treatment was associated with a reduced incidence of stroke and a trend toward a reduced incidence of atrial fibrillation. Although lysine analogs, desmopressin, and recombinant factor VIIa are sometimes used to reduce bleeding, only aprotinin is indicated for use during CABG surgery. Conclusion. The future of cardiac surgery will be marked by an increasingly complex, high-risk group of patients and a greater need for multiple pharmacologic options for reducing bleeding. Pharmacologic approaches that attenuate the activation of the hemostatic system and inflammation need to be employed to decrease coagulopathies and the need for allogeneic blood administration.

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  • J. H. Levy

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