Summary. Excessive bleeding after cardiac surgery can result in increased morbidity and mortality related to transfusion- and hypoperfusion-related injuries to critical organ systems.
Our objective was to review mechanisms that result in bleeding after cardiac surgery as well as current and emerging interventions to reduce bleeding and transfusion.
We discovered that of point-of-care (POC) tests of hemostatic function can facilitate the optimal management of excessive bleeding and reduce transfusion by facilitating administration of specific pharmacologic or transfusion-based therapy and by allowing physicians to better differentiate between microvascular bleeding and surgical bleeding. Emerging interventions like recombinant FVIIa have the potential to reduce bleeding and transfusion-related sequelae and may be life-saving; however, randomized, controlled trials are needed to confirm safety before they can be used as either first-line therapies for bleeding or bleeding prophylaxis.
In conclusion, careful investigation of the role of new interventions is essential as the ability to reduce use of blood products, to decrease operative time and/or re-exploration rates has important implications for overall patient safety and health care costs.