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  • Open Access
  • Open Peer Review

Mild volume acute normovolemic hemodilution is associated with lower intraoperative transfusion and postoperative pulmonary infection in patients undergoing cardiac surgery -- a retrospective, propensity matching study

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  • 1, 2,
  • 1,
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  • 1Email author
BMC AnesthesiologyBMC series – open, inclusive and trusted201717:13

https://doi.org/10.1186/s12871-017-0305-7

  • Received: 6 October 2016
  • Accepted: 17 January 2017
  • Published:
Open Peer Review reports

Abstract

Background

Perioperative allogenic transfusion is required in almost 50% of patients undergoing cardiac surgery and is associated with higher risk of mortality and morbidity (Xue et al., Lancet 387:1905, 2016; Ferraris et al., Ann Thorac Surg 91:944–82, 2011). Acute normovolemic hemodilution (ANH) is recommended as a potential strategy during cardiac surgery, but the blood conservation effect and the degree of ANH was still controversial. There is also an increasing concern about the improved outcomes associated with ANH. Therefore, a better understanding of the effect of mild volume ANH during cardiac surgery is urgently needed.

Methods

This retrospective study included 2058 patients who underwent cardiac surgery between 2010 and 2015. The study population was split into two groups (with and without mild volume ANH). Propensity score adjustment analysis was applied. We reported the association between the use of mild volume ANH and perioperative outcomes.

Results

A total of 1289 patients were identified. ANH was performed in 358 patients, and the remaining 931 patients did not receive any ANH. Five hundred of the total patients (38.8%) received perioperative RBC transfusions, 10% (129/1289) of patients received platelet, and 56.4% (727/1289) of patients received fresh frozen plasma transfusions. Mild volume ANH administration was significantly associated with decreased intraoperative RBC transfuse rate (8.5% vs. 14.4%; p = 0.013), number of RBC units (p = 0.019), and decreased postoperative pulmonary infection (6.8 vs. 11.3%; p = 0.036) during cardiac surgery. However, there was no significant difference regarding intraoperative fresh frozen plasma (FFP) and platelet concentrate transfusions, as well as postoperative and total perioperative allogeneic transfusions. Furthermore, there was no significant difference regarding postoperative outcomes including mortality, prolonged wound healing, stroke, atrial fibrillation, reoperation for postoperative bleeding and acute kidney injury. There was also no difference in postoperative ventilation time, length of ICU and hospital stay.

Conclusion

Based on the 5-year experience of mild volume ANH in cardiac surgeries with CPB in our large retrospective cohort, mild volume ANH was associated with decreased intraoperative RBC transfusion and postoperative pulmonary infection in Chinese patients undergoing cardiac surgery. However, there was no significant difference regarding postoperative and total perioperative allogeneic transfusions.

Keywords

  • Hemodilution
  • Transfusion
  • Complication
  • Cardiac surgery

Background

In China, blood shortage is now becoming an important public health concern, and the lack of adequate blood donation is considered to be the main cause [1]. Perioperative allogenic transfusion is required in about 50% of patients undergoing cardiac surgery [2], but it is associated with higher risk of mortality and morbidity (infection, lung injury, renal failure, and stroke) [35]. Hence, many blood conservation techniques are recommended of which acute normovolemic hemodilution (ANH) may be considered as an adjuvant in appropriate patients [2].

Thus far, no consensus has been achieved in the results of published studies on ANH. Many trials have confirmed the positive effects of ANH in reducing perioperative allogeneic transfusions [6, 7]; however, other studies have reported negative effects [8, 9]. Another important debated point is the degree of ANH performed. Some authors consider that only a large volume of ANH is useful or effective in minimizing the need for allogeneic transfusions [7, 10]; however, Kahraman et al. observed no differences between the effect of mild and high volume of ANH on postoperative bleeding and perioperative blood transfusions [11]. Furthermore, there may be a risk of performing moderate or severe ANH in patients with a lower preoperative hematocrit level in cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) which would lead to hemodilution [12].

There is also an increasing concern about the improved outcomes associated with ANH [7, 13, 14]; the safety of ANH still remains uncertain [15]. We performed this study to assess the relationship between mild volume ANH, perioperative transfusions, and outcomes in Chinese patients undergoing cardiac surgery.

Methods

Study population and design

The present study was a single center, retrospective study which was approved by the Ethics Committee of Zhejiang University (Hangzhou, China; No.2016-021), with patient consent waived. A total of 2058 consecutive adult patients underwent cardiac surgeries with CPB from January 1, 2010, to December 31, 2015 and ANH was performed throughout all 5 years. The following exclusion criteria were applied as they were unsuitable for ANH: (1) low weight (weight <50 kg for men and <45 kg for women); (2) ASA (American Standards Association) class V; (3) emergent or redo surgery; (4) previous shock or left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) <35%; (5) previous coexistent disease (endocarditis; a history of myocardial infarction in the previous 30 days; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD]; anemia; chronic kidney disease [CKD]; serum albumin level [ALB] <25 g/L); (6) international normalized ratio (INR) >1.5 or platelet count <100 × 103/mm3; (7) acquired or inherited bleeding disorders; (8) cancer disease. Then the study population was devided into ANH group (with ANH) and non-ANH group (without ANH).

Perioperative medical record information including demographic characteristics, patient history (preoperative medications, coexistent disease and other risk factors), operative data, perioperative allogeneic transfusions, and postoperative complication were retrieved from the hospital medical records during the entire hospitalization period regardless of days. An independent investigator reviewed all data.

ANH techniques and transfusion strategy

General anesthesia and standard monitoring were performed. According to institutional standards, body temperature of patients was maintained at 30 °C during CPB. When the surgery was finished, patients were rewarmed to 37 °C and weaned from CPB. ANH was performed after induction of anesthesia and before heparinization for CPB [7]. The mild volume ANH [8] was performed with 5–8 ml/kg of whole blood withdrawn from an introducer of Fast-Cath catheter (St. Jude Medical, USA) into standard citrate phosphate-dextrose collection bags by gravity. The removed blood volume was simultaneously replaced with an equal volume of hydroxyethyl starch solutions (6%Haes 130/0.4; Fresenius Kabi, Stans, Switzerland). Collected blood was kept at 4 °C temperature refrigerator without shaker.

Transfusion criteria were the same in both groups. The cell saver was routinely performed, the administration of antifibrinolytics was apllied according to the anesthetist’s judgment, and additional blood transfusions were deliberately determined by the surgery team caring of the patients. Blood transfusions were usually carried out when the following criteria were met [2] and other additional decisions were made according to the patient’s clinical condition. Red blood cells (RBC) were transfused when hemoglobin concentrations was <6 g/dL during CPB and <7 g/dL after CPB. When international normalized ratio (INR) >1.4 or activated partial prothrombin time (aPTT) >50 s or R time >10 min in Thromboelastometry test (TEG), prothrombin complex concentrate (PCC) was administered (20–30 IU/kg). If the above mentioned parameters prolongation did not respond to administration of PCC or there occured hypovolemia, Fresh frozen plasma (FFP) was transfused (10–15 mL/kg). Platelets were transfused when platelets count <50 × 109/L and fibrinogen concentrate (Fb) was administered of 25–50 mg/kg when Fb <1.5 g/L. Activated recombinant factor VII (rVIIa) was considered of 90 ug/kg as rescue therapy if the bleeding still existed while INR <1.4, aPTT <50 s, Fb >2 g/L, platelet count >100 × 109/L. When transfusion criteria were met during the surgery, the withdrawn blood was reinfused firstly. If transfusion criteria were not met till the end of surgery, the withdrawn blood was also reinfused before the patients were transferred out of the operation room. The reinfusion of withdrawn blood was performed within 6 h. Blood recovered from the extracorporeal circuit system (pumped blood) was not accounted into the volume of the blood transfusions.

Perioperative endpoints

The end points occurred during the hospitalization were recorded in patient medical documents. The primary endpoint was any perioperative transfusions. Other endpoints included in-hospital mortality (intraoperation and postoperation death, which were defined as death in the operation room and death after operation up to discharge seperately), morbidity, duration of mechanical ventilation, length of ICU (intensive care unit) stay, length of hospital stay (LOS) and hemostatic drugs adminstration. Hospital morbidities included the following: (1) pulmonary infection was confirmed based on symptoms (fever and expectoration) and laboratory evidence (culture-positive sputum, chest roentgenogram, or computed tomography findings) by a physician reviewing the medical data [16]; (2) prolonged wound healing which was defined as >7 days for wound healing; (3) stroke which was a new ischemic cerebrovascular accident confirmed by radiological evidence with a neurological deficit lasting for more than 24 h and with radiological evidence [17]; (4) new-onset atrial fibrillation (AF) [18]; (5) re-exploration for bleeding during hospitalization; (6) acute kidney injury (AKI), defined by Improving Global Outcomes criteria [19]: increase in serum creatinine (Cr) by ≥26.5 μmol/l within 48 h; or Increase in Cr to ≥1.5 times baseline within the previous 7 days. AKI is staged for severity according to the following criteria: stage 1 (Cr ≥26.5 μmol/L above baseline or 1.5–1.9 times baseline), stage 2 (Cr 2.0–2.9 times baseline), or stage 3 (Cr ≥3 times baseline or postoperative Cr of ≥353.6 μmol/L, or initiation of renal replacement therapy).

Statistical methods

Descriptive analyses of variables were used to summarize data. The normal distributed variables were expressed as mean ± standard deviation (SD) and compared with student t-test. Abnormal continuous variables were expressed as median (interquartile range (IQR)) and evaluated with Mann-Whitney U-test.respectively. Chi-square or Fisher’s exact test was used to compare proportions between the two groups. Missing continuous variables of baseline parameters were less than 10% and were replaced by median in Table 1. All reported p values were two sided, and values of p < 0.05 were considered to be statistically significant. Statistical analysis was performed with SPSS version 18.
Table 1

Demographic and Clinical characteristics of the two study groups before and after propensity score matching

 

Entire sample

Propensity-matched group

Preoperative characteristics

ANH

p-value

ANH

p-value

Yes (n = 358)

No (n = 931)

 

Yes (n = 354)

No (n = 354)

 

Age [median (SD); yr]

50 ± 12

51 ± 13

0.139

50 ± 12

50 ± 13

0.866

Male/female, no.(%)

224/134 (62.6%)

394/537 (42.3%)

<0.001

220/134 (62.1%)

222/132 (62.7%)

0.877

Height [median (SD); cm]

164 ± 7

162 ± 7

<0.001

164 ± 7

164 ± 7

0.761

Weight [mean (SD); kg]

63 ± 10

60 ± 10

<0.001

63 ± 10

62 ± 10

0.580

Estimated blood volume [mean (SD); mL]

4298 ± 779

4045 ± 722

<0.001

4285 ± 765

4258 ± 750

0.636

ASA, no. (%)

  

0.070

  

0.230

 I

1 (0.3%)

4 (0.4)

 

1 (0.3%)

3 (0.8%)

 

 II

79 (22.1%)

206 (22.1%)

 

79 (22.3%)

77 (21.8%)

 

 III

248 (69.3%)

678 (72.8%)

 

244 (68.9%)

256 (72.3%)

 

 IV

30 (8.4%)

43 (46%)

 

30 (8.5%)

18 (5.1%)

 

NYHA class III/IV, no.(%)

83 (23.2%)

233 (25%)

0.491

81 (22.9%)

75 (21.2%)

0.586

History of smoking, no. (%)

108 (30.2%)

204 (21.9%)

0.002

108 (30.5%)

100 (28.2%)

0.509

Coexistent disease

 AF, no. (%)

81 (22.6%)

222 (23.8%)

0.644

80 (22.6%)

82 (23.2%)

0.858

 Hypertension, no. (%)

75 (20.9%)

209 (22.4%)

0.561

74 (20.9%)

79 (22.3%)

0.648

 Diabetes, no. (%)

17 (4.7%)

63 (6.8%)

0.179

17 (4.8%)

18 (5.1%)

0.862

 HLP, no. (%)

5 (1.4%)

6 (0.6%)

0.191

5 (1.4%)

2 (0.6%)

0.451

 Cerebrovascular disease, no. (%)

16 (4.5)

37 (4.0)

0.688

16 (4.5)

16 (4.5)

1.000

Preoperative Medication

 ACEI and ARB, no. (%)

28 (7.8%)

77 (8.3%)

0.792

28 (7.9%)

29 (8.2%)

0.890

 β-blockers, no. (%)

19 (5.3%)

66 (7.1%)

0.248

19 (5.4%)

22 (6.2%)

0.629

 Calcium Channel Blockers, no. (%)

25 (7.0%)

71 (7.6%)

0.694

24 (6.8%)

19 (5.4%)

0.431

 Diuretics, no. (%)

16 (4.5%)

70 (7.5%)

0.049

16 (4.5%)

13 (3.7%)

0.569

Preoperative laboratory examination

 T-ch [median (SD); mmol/L]

4.5 ± 1.0

4.4 ± 1.1

0.178

4.5 ± 1.0

4.4 ± 1.1

0.305

 Cr [median (SD); umol/L]

70 ± 15

67 ± 16

<0.001

70 ± 15

70 ± 17

0.976

 ALB [median (SD); g/L]

42 ± 4

42 ± 4

0.182

42 ± 4

42 ± 4

0.535

 HCT [median (SD); %]

42 ± 5

40 ± 4

<0.001

42 ± 4

42 ± 4

0.918

 Propensity score [median (SD)]

0.33 ± 0.12

0.26 ± 0.11

<0.001

0.32 ± 0.12

0.32 ± 0.11

0.840

#: Fisher’s exact test was used; BMI body mass index, ASA American Society of Anesthesiologists, NYHA New York Heart Association, AF atrial fibrillation, HLP hyperlipidaemia, CKD chronic kidney disease, COPD chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, MI myocardial infarction in 30 days before operation, ARB angiotensin receptor blockers, ACEI angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, LVEF left ventricular ejection fraction, T-ch serum cholesterol, Cr serum creatinine, ALB albumin, HCT hematocrit

To minimize the effect of selection bias on outcomes, we used propensity score matching for clinical characteristics to reduce distortion by confounding factors. Using propensity score analysis by the method of nearest-neighbor matching, we generated a set of matched cases (ANH) and controls (non-ANH). According to the propensity score matching, 354 pairs of patients were identified for postoperative analysis. A propensity score was generated for each patient from a multivariable logistic regression model on the basis of the covariates using clinical characteristics data (Table 1) from the institutional registry as independent variables, with treatment type (ANH vs. Non-ANH) as a binary dependent variable. We matched patients using a greedy-matching algorithm with a caliper width of 0.1 of the estimated propensity score. A matching ratio of 1:1 was used. We evaluated post match covariate balance by comparing the balance of baseline covariates between patients with ANH and non-ANH before and after matching using absolute standardized differences [20].

Results

Baseline parameters

A total of 1289 patients were identified and divided into two groups: patients who received ANH (ANH group, n = 358, 27.8%) and those who did not receive ANH (non- ANH group, n = 931, 72.2%) during the operative period (Fig. 1). The mean removed blood was 346 mL in the ANH group. The average age of the study population was 51 years, 52.1% were females, 71.8% with ASA class III, 5.7% with ASA class IV, and 24.5% had NYHA class III and IV. A total of 38.7% of the total patients underwent complex cardiac (combined coronary artery bypass graft surgery and valve surgery or multi-valve surgery) or aortic surgery (Aortic dissections, type A and B, thoracic aortic aneurysms or Aortic valve surgery with ascending aortic replacement). The clinical characteristics of the two matched groups (with and without ANH) extracted by propensity analysis were presented in Table 1. According to the standardized difference, covariate balance between the matched pairs was confirmed. An additional data material file shows in detail (see Additional file 1).
Fig. 1
Fig. 1

Study population recruitment summary. LVEF = left ventricular ejection fraction; COPD = chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; CKD = chronic kidney disease; INR = international normalized ratio; Plt = platelet count; ANH = acute normovolemic hemodilution

Operative characteristics

As ANH technique was performed, the blood hematocrit was lower in the ANH group (p < 0.05). The ANH group had more intraoperative cristalloids and colloids volume (2272 ± 610 vs. 2140 ± 770) mL; p = 0.011), but there was no significant difference in blood loss, urine output, and pump blood between the two groups. No significant difference was observed between the two matched groups regarding operative characteristics including surgery type, the number of intra-aortic balloon pump (IABA) utilized, cardiopulmonary bypass time, anesthesia time, surgery time, calcium content, and the blood pH (Table 2).
Table 2

Operative Characteristics

Characteristics

ANH

 

Yes (n = 354)

No (n = 354)

p-value

ANH [mean (SD); mL]

342 ± 138

  

Operative Characteristics

 Intra-aortic balloon pump, no. (%)

1 (0.3%)

1 (0.3%)

1.000

 Duration of anesthesia [mean (SD); min]

297 ± 98

305 ± 110

0.325

 Duration of surgery [mean (SD); min]

252 ± 89

260 ± 110

0.244

 CPB time [mean (SD); min]

125 ± 59

129 ± 63

0.399

Type of surgery, no. (%)

  

0.168

 CABG

23 (6.5%)

30 (8.5%)

 

 Valve surgery

137 (38.7%)

121 (34.2%)

 

 Complex cardiac surgery

116 (32.8%)

126 (35.6%)

 

 Aortic surgery

24 (6.8%)

13 (3.7%)

 

 Others surgery

54 (15.3%)

64 (18.1%)

 

Input and Output

 Blood loss [mean (SD); mL]

684 ± 355

678 ± 514

0.855

 Urine output [mean (SD); mL]

788 ± 465

730 ± 419

0.084

 Pump blood [mean (SD); mL]

512 ± 129

508 ± 139

0.708

 Cell salvage [median (SD); mL]

375 ± 267

369 ± 343

0.797

 Intraoperative cristalloids and colloids [mean (SD); mL]

2272 ± 610

2140 ± 770

0.011

Hemostatic drugs Characteristics

 Tranexamic Acid, no. (%)

121 (34.2%)

113 (31.9%)

0.523

 Prothrombin Complex Concentrate, no. (%)

6 (1.7%)

7 (20%)

0.780

 Fibrinogen concentrate, no. (%)

6 (1.7%)

10 (2.8%)

0.312

 Recombinant activated factor VII, no. (%)

1 (0.3%)

3 (0.8%)

0.624

Arterial blood gas analysis

 Calcium content Pre-CPB [mean (SD); mmol/L]

1.08 ± 0.10

1.08 ± 0.09

0.871

 Blood pH Pre-CPB [mean (SD)]

7.40 ± 0.06

7.39 ± 0.05

0.636

 Hct Pre-CPB [mean (SD);%]

38 ± 5

40 ± 5

<0.001

 Calcium content End ± CPB [mean (SD); mmol/L]

0.90 ± 0.13

0.87 ± 0.13

0.086

 Blood pH End-CPB [mean (SD)]

7.48 ± 0.08

7.50 ± 0.09

0.055

 Hct End-CPB [mean (SD);%]

25 ± 4

27 ± 5

0.003

 Calcium content Post ± CPB [mean (SD); mmol/L]

1.03 ± 0.17

1.02 ± 0.15

0.628

 Blood pH Post-CPB [mean (SD)]

7.37 ± 0.07

7.38 ± 0.08

0.168

 Hct Post ± CPB [mean (SD);%]

29 ± 4

30 ± 5

0.021

#: Fisher’s exact test was used; CPB cardiopulmonary bypass, CABG coronary artery bypass grafting, Valve surgery aortic, mitral and tricuspid valve surgery without ascending aortic replacement, Complex cardiac surgery combined coronary artery bypass graft surgery and valve surgery or multi-valve surgery, Aortic surgery aortic dissections, type A and B, thoracic aortic aneurysms) or Aortic valve surgery with ascending aortic replacement; Others surgery type including atrial septal defect, interventricular septal defect, atrial myxoma, Aneurysm Sinus Valsalva, coronary artery pulmonary artery fistula, patent foramen ovale/atrial septal aneurysm surgery, and surgery for cardiac tumors, Pumped blood blood recovered from the extracorporeal circuit system, CPB cardiopulmonary bypass, Hb hemoglobin, Hct hematocrit, Pre-CPB before CPB and after performing ANH, End-CPB at the end of CPB, Post-CPB 30 min after CPB

Perioperative allogeneic transfusions

Of the total 1289 patients, 500 patients (38.8%) received perioperative RBC transfusions, 10% (129/1289) of patients received platelet, 56.4% (727/1289) of patients received FFP transfusions. Compared to the non-ANH group, the intraoperative RBC transfusions rate (8.5% vs. 14.4%; p = 0.013) and number of RBC units (p = 0.019) decreased significantly in the ANH group. However, there was no significant difference regarding intraoperative hemostatic drugs, FFP and platelet concentrate transfusions, as well as postoperative and total perioperative allogeneic transfusions (Table 3).
Table 3

Perioperative allogeneic transfusions

Allogeneic transfusions

Propensity-matched

 

ANH

Non-ANH

p-value

(n = 354)

(n = 354)

Intra-operative transfusion

 RBC transfusion, no. (%)

30 (8.5%)

51 (14.4%)

0.013

 Total RBCs transfusion (U)

164

289

0.019

 FFP transfusion, no. (%)

96 (27.1%)

109 (30.8%)

0.281

 Total FFP transfusion (ml)

63770

78660

0.225

 Platelet transfusion, no. (%)

25 (7.1%)

18 (5.1%)

0.271

 Total Platelet transfusion (U)

261

205.7

0.432

Postoperative RBCs transfusion

 Postoperative in 24 h, no. (%)

72 (20.4%)

63 (17.8%)

0.389

 Postoperative in 24 h [median (IQR); U]

0 (0 to 0)

0 (0 to 0)

0.407

 >24 h after surgical start, no. (%)

24 (6.8%)

25 (7.1%)

0.882

 >24 h after surgical start [median (IQR); U]

0 (0 to 0)

0 (0 to 0)

0.881

Postoperative FFP transfusion

 Postoperative in 24 h, no. (%)

90 (25.5%)

93 (26.3%)

0.797

 Postoperative in 24 h [median (IQR); ml]

0 (0 to 230)

0 (0 to 200)

0.914

 Postoperative after 24 h, no. (%)

7 (2.0%)

7 (2.0%)

1.000

 >24 h after surgical start [median (IQR); ml]

0 (0 to 0)

0 (0 to 0)

0.996

Postoperative Platelet transfusion

 Postoperative in 24 h, no. (%)

10 (2.8%)

9 (2.5%)

0.816

 Postoperative in 24 h [median (IQR); U]

0 (0 to 0)

0 (0 to 0)

0.802

 Postoperative after 24 h, no. (%)

1 (0.3%)

2 (0.6%)

0.624#

 >24 h after surgical start [median (IQR); U]

0 (0 to 0)

0 (0 to 0)

0.561

Total Perioperative Allogeneic transfusions

 RBC transfusion, no. (%)

98 (27.7%)

96 (27.1%)

0.866

 RBCs transfusion (U)

0 (0 to 2)

0 (0 to 2)

0.300

 FFP transfusion, no. (%)

153 (43.2%)

157 (44.4%)

0.762

 FFP transfusion (ml)

0 (0 to 730)

0 (0 to 630)

0.876

 Platelet transfusion, no. (%)

35 (9.9%)

28 (7.9%)

0.355

 Platelet transfusion (U)

0 (0 to 0)

0 (0 to 0)

0.380

Postoperative HCT [median (SD); %]

32 ± 5

32 ± 4

0.464

RBCs red blood cells, FFP fresh frozen plasma, HCT hematocrit, ANH acute normovolemic hemodilution

Postoperative outcomes after propensity matching

Eighteen of the total 1289 patients (1.4%) died during hospitalization, of which died in the operating room were four. Patients who died in the operating room after propensity matching were excluded from the postoperative outcomes analysis (n = 2). Patients who had preexisting renal dysfunction (serum creatinine level >124 μmol/L for women and >141 μmol/L for men or requiring renal replacement therapy) were excluded from the AKI analysis (n = 52) and patients with a preexisting history of AF were excluded from the AF analysis after propensity score matching (n = 161).

None of the patients experienced pulmonary embolism. Approximately 8.9% (115/1289) of patients developed postoperative pulmonary infection during hospitalization. The rate of pulmonary infection (6.8 vs. 11.3%; p = 0.036) was significantly declined in the ANH group as compared to that in the non-ANH group. No differences were found in the incidence of mortality, prolonged wound healing, stroke, AF, reoperation for postoperative bleeding and AKI between the two groups. There was also no difference in postoperative ventilation time, length of ICU and hospital stay (Table 4).
Table 4

Postoperative outcomes (n = 354)

Outcomes

Propensity-matched

 

ANH

Non-ANH

p valve

Pulmonary infection

 no

329 (93.2%)

313 (88.7%)

 

 yes

24 (6.8%)

40 (11.3%)

0.036

Death

 no

350 (99.2%)

351 (99.4%)

 

 yes

3 (0.8%)

2 (0.6%)

1.000#

Prolonged wound healing

 no

332 (94.1%)

341 (96.6%)

 

 yes

21 (5.9%)

12 (3.4%)

0.109

Stroke

 no

352 (99.7%)

350 (99.2%)

 

 yes

1 (0.3%)

3 (0.8%)

0.624#

AF

 no

237 (86.8%)

233 (85.7%)

 

 yes

36 (13.2%)

39 (14.3%)

0.696

Resternotomy for postoperative bleeding

 no

349 (98.9%)

350 (99.2%)

 

 yes

4 (1.1%)

3 (0.8%)

1.000#

AKI

 no

245 (74.0%)

241 (74.6%)

 

 yes

86 (26.0%)

82 (25.4%)

0.862

 Stage1

63 (73.3%)

59 (71.9%)

 

 Stage2

15 (17.4%)

18 (22.0%)

 

 Stage3

8 (9.3%)

5 (6.1%)

 

Ventilation [mean (SD); hours]

17 ± 21

19 ± 29

0.239

ICU [mean (SD); days]

4.4 ± 2.4

4.2 ± 3.1

0.254

LOS [mean (SD); days]

12 ± 9

12 ± 10

0.708

AF atrial fibrillation, AKI acute kidney injury, ANH acute normovolemic hemodilution, ICU intensive care unit, LOS length of hospital stay

Discussion

In our retrospective analysis of patients undergoing cardiac surgery with CPB, we found that mild volume ANH was associated with decreased intraoperative RBC transfusions rate and number of RBC units after data adjustment for preoperative risk factors. However, there was no significant difference regarding postoperative and total perioperative allogeneic transfusions. Our results further supported previous findings that the use of ANH could reduce intraoperative RBC transfusions in patients undergoing cardiac surgery [6, 7, 21], even though blood loss was similar between the ANH and non-ANH groups in our study. Some meta-analysis also supported that ANH is effective in minimizing blood transfusion in patients undergoing cardiac surgery [15, 22].

However, the utility of mild volume ANH in reducing allogeneic blood transfusions in cardiac surgery is still controversial. Several studies have proved that mild volume ANH was not effective in reducing the number of allogeneic erythrocytes units [8, 23], but others have proven otherwise [6]. Our results support the positive finding that mild volume ANH could reduce intraoperative blood transfusions. The variations in blood saving strategy and surgery type may be the major reasons for our finding being different from other studies. Although Valter Casati et al.’s study did not find positive efficacy of low-volume ANH [8], we noticed that there was a decreasing trend of intraoperative RBC transfusions in the ANH group compared to non-ANH group (4.9% vs. 7%). Another potential reason was that their case mix was easier (over 50% were single valve surgeries), which leads to less blood loss and transfusions. However, more than 38.7% of the surgeries in our cohort were complex cardiac and aortic surgeries, resulting in that more patients required intraoperative RBC transfusions in both the ANH and non-ANH groups (8.5 and 14.4%). Another point to be noted is that the cell saver technique was routinely applied in our study as a previous study reported that combination of cell saver with ANH produced better blood saving effect than ANH alone [24]. Another previous study of Alireza Mahoori et al. on exclusively elective coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery patients [6] found that mild volume ANH could decrease requirements of total perioperative RBC transfusions. We failed to observe the similar positive effect of mild volume ANH on total perioperative RBC transfusions, this variation may mainly due to the different volumes of blood removed (342 vs. 490 mL) and transfusion triggered criteria between our study and Alireza Mahooris study (hemoglobin concentration <6–7 g/dL vs. <10 g/dL). The less strict transfusion triggered criteria in Alireza Mahooris study may lead to more transfusions rate compared to our cohort (57% vs. 27%).

Although ANH has been proved to reduce postoperative allogenic blood transfusions during cardiac surgery [7], our study failed to show these positive findings. A comprehensive blood saving strategy including antifibrinolytic agent [25] and TEG [26] has been applied and was demonstrated to reduce transfusion requirements. Thus the evidence of ANH may be less effective. The mild volume of ANH may also contribute to the less beneficial blood conservation effect, as Joshua Goldberg found that the reduction in allogeneic transfusions is more significant with greater volume ANH (≥800 mL) in cardiac surgery [7].

There is not much evidence regarding clinical outcome benefits of mild ANH in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. A recent article found that ANH was related to improved outcomes including renal failure, 30-day mortality, and length of hospital stay [7], and moderate ANH provided further cardioprotective effects during cardiac surgery [13, 14]. However, some other authors mentioned that greater hemodilution might be associated with adverse complications, especially in patients with preexisting coronary disease [27]. In another study of patients undergoing pancreaticoduodenectomy, ANH did not seem to decrease blood transfusions, but lead to more pancreatic anastomotic complications for greater intraoperative fluid administration [28]. Some authors criticize ANH for the possibly of causing perioperative adverse outcomes including damaged pulmonary function for increased lung fluid volume [8]. Furthermore, a recent study even found that after moderate ANH, patients undergoing total hip arthroplasty showed a hypocoagulable state [29].

Although we did not observe the positive effect of ANH regarding mortality, stroke, AF, AKI, and resternotomy for postoperative bleeding, our findings suggest that mild volume ANH might be associated with lower incidence of pulmonary infection. Some possible mechanisms may contribute to this protective effect. First, the indirect effect of reducing the rate of RBC transfusions may improve outcomes. RBC transfusions could increase postoperative pneumonia in patients undergoing CABG surgery [17]. Second, ANH blood was associated with a smaller concentration of inflammatory mediators such as interleukin-10 and neutrophil elastase than predonated autologous blood [30]. Third, due to the hemodilution-induced blood viscosity, such protection might be associated with an improved oxygen supply-consumption balance [14]. More evidence is needed to confirm the positive effect of mild volume ANH on cardiac surgery outcomes, including pulmonary complication.

Limitations

There were some limitations in this study. Firstly, due to clear and strict indications, ANH [2] could not be performed widely for all paitents. Secondly, although the strict exclusion criteria and propensity score adjustment were assumed to minimize biases, the potential bias factors may not be completely eliminated in a retrospective study. Thirdly, although no significant difference was observed between the two matched groups regarding intraoperative tranexamic acid adminstration, the administration of tranexamic acid was not absolutely unified in this study. Finally, population characteristics and the blood saving strategy were different for each institution; hence, caution should be used when interpreting our findings.

Conclusions

In conclusion, in our large retrospective study, mild volume ANH was associated with lower intraoperative RBC transfusions and postoperative pulmonary infection in Chinese patients undergoing cardiac surgery. However, there was no significant difference regarding postoperative and total perioperative allogeneic transfusions. Further prospective and randomized studies are needed to confirm the effects of mild volume ANH on perioperative outcomes during cardiac surgery.

Abbreviations

AF: 

Atrial fibrillation

AKI: 

Acute kidney injury

ALB: 

Albumin

ANH: 

Acute normovolemic hemodilution

aPTT: 

Activated partial prothrombin time

ASA: 

American standards association

CKD: 

Chronic kidney disease

COPD: 

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

CPB: 

Cardiopulmonary bypass

Cr: 

Creatinine

Fb: 

Fibrinogen concentrate

FFP: 

Fresh frozen plasma

IABA: 

Intra-aortic balloon pump

ICU: 

Intensive care unit

INR: 

International normalized ratio

LOS: 

Length of hospital stay

LVEF: 

Left ventricular ejection fraction

RBC: 

Red blood cells

rVIIa: 

Recombinant factor VII

TEE: 

Transesophageal echocardiography

TEG: 

Thrombelastography

Declarations

Acknowledgements

We thank Yun-xian YU (Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics, School of Public Health, Zhejiang University) who provided statistical analyze assistance.

Funding

No funding was received.

Availability of data and materials

All data analysed during this study are included in this published article [Additional file 1].

Authors’ contributions

All authors have seen the manuscript and approved to submit to your journal. ZZF and YM designed the study. JXP, ZFJ, YLN and XT did the work of data collecting, and data was analysed by SK. ZZF and YM wrote the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

This retrospective study was approved by the Ethics Committee of Zhejiang University (Hangzhou, China; No.2016-021), with patient consent waived.

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Department of Anesthesiology, Second Affiliated Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Zhejiang Province, China
(2)
Department of Anesthesiology, The Affiliated Yiwu Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, Yiwu, China

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