New Method Gauges Blood Needed for Bypass Surgery

It's a means of preserving this precious resource

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TUESDAY, May 2, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Anesthesiologists can now use a simple formula to predict how much blood a patient will need for bypass surgery.

The formula, based on individual patient characteristics, can help save hospital resources and staff time, and lead to a more rational allocation of banked blood, according to the researchers who developed it.

A Duke University study of more than 5,400 bypass patients concluded that those over age 75, those with impaired kidney function, and those who weighed less than 121 pounds were most likely to need the most blood during or immediately following their surgery.

"At most U.S. hospitals, four units of typed and cross-matched blood are routinely sent to the operating room at the time of surgery. This is the arbitrary amount that has been used for many years in operating rooms nationwide," researcher Dr. George Lappas, a cardiovascular anesthesiology fellow, said in a prepared statement.

"We thought there needed to be a better way to estimate blood needs, since blood is a scarce commodity that takes staff time and resources to prepare. Also, with blood being held in operating rooms 'just in case,' it is not available for other patients who might need it," Lappas said.

"We confirmed our hypothesis that a model based on a patient's characteristics prior to surgery could predict how much blood would need to be cross-matched prior to surgery. This approach would appear to be a more rational and scientifically based approach for predicting blood needs," he added.

The findings were presented Monday at the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists annual scientific sessions, in San Diego.

More information

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons has more about coronary artery bypass surgery.

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, May 1, 2006

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