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Keywords:

  • Bariatric surgery;
  • financial savings;
  • group and save

What is already known about this subject

  • • 
    The demand for bariatric surgery is increasing.
  • • 
    NHS Trusts are expected to instigate cost-efficiency measures.
  • • 
    Previous articles have discussed the need for routine preoperative cross-match.

What this study adds

  • • 
    No gastric band patient suffered a significant drop in haemoglobin or needed a blood transfusion.
  • • 
    Group and save samples could be safely stored in the laboratory and only sent for analysis if clinically indicated.
  • • 
    Even greater cost savings could be achieved if prudent use of perioperative blood testing and blood transfusion was implemented.

Summary

Current guidance at our Trust is that all bariatric surgical patients should have preoperative group and save (G&S) and full blood count (FBC) tests, as well as a FBC check 1 d post-operatively. Our aim was to investigate blood transfusion requirements of these patients and whether we could reduce the number of investigations requested. 1018 consecutive elective laparoscopic gastric band and laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass patients who were operated on in our bariatric unit from March 2000 until January 2011 were identified. Patients' haemoglobin levels, G&S status and blood transfusion requirements were analyzed using our online pathology system. 607 patients had a laparoscopic gastric band, with 411 undergoing a laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. None of our gastric band patients required a transfusion; however, nine patients (2.2%) undergoing a gastric bypass needed a transfusion. Two patients required transfusion within 24 h of surgery while six of the remaining seven patients received blood 3–4 d post-operatively. Costs incurred on FBC and G&S tests during this time were estimated to exceed £15 700.

G&S and post-operative FBC tests could be abandoned for laparoscopic gastric band patients with significant financial and person-time savings. However, given that 2.2% of laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass patients needed a blood transfusion, we believe that post-operative FBC tests are still warranted in this patient group, with a G&S sample stored in pathology. Much greater financial savings could be achieved if prudent use of preoperative investigations, including storing G&S samples in the laboratory, was adopted for all elective operations.