In a retrospective study of 388 patients who had undergone cardiac operations at our institution during two time periods—before (1982) and after (1984) introduction of autologous transfusion—we analyzed the effect of blood conservation efforts and autologous transfusion on blood usage, postoperative complications, and duration of hospitalization. Cell salvage techniques resulted in a significant reduction (P<0.0001) in use of not only homologous blood (from a mean of 9.6 units per patient in 1982 to 3.2 units in 1984) but also fresh-frozen plasma and platelet concentrates. We found no significant difference in morbidity or mortality for the two study periods. Although the mean duration of hospitalization decreased from 11.7 days in 1982 to 9.6 days in 1984, this change was probably related to factors other than the introduction of blood conservation efforts. Thus, techniques used to decrease the amount of blood replacement needed for cardiac surgical procedures are beneficial.
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