Editorial: J Thorac Cardiovasc
Weltert L, D’Alessandro S, Nardella S, Girola F, Bellisario A, Maselli D, De Paulis R
OBJECTIVE: Human recombinant erythropoietin has been used to obtain a rapid increase in red blood cells before surgery. Previously, the shortest preparatory interval has been 4 days, but at the European Hospital only 2.4 days on average separate hospitalization and surgery. We therefore proposed a randomized blind trial to test the efficacy of high-dose erythropoietin for very short-term administration. METHODS: All patients presenting with a diagnosis of isolated coronary vessel disease were randomized to either erythropoietin therapy or a control group. Patients with a creatinine level greater than 2 mg/dL or hemoglobin level greater than 14.5 g/dL were excluded. Hemoglobin values were collected preoperatively and on postoperative days 1 and 4. Blood loss and blood transfusion rate were recorded at the time of discharge. RESULTS: We enrolled 320 consecutive patients in the study. No significant difference was found in preoperative parameters, postoperative blood loss, or mean preoperative hemoglobin levels. On postoperative day 4, mean hemoglobin was 15.5% higher in the erythropoietin group (10.70 +/- 0.72 g/dL vs 9.26 +/- 0.71 g/dL; P < .05). This group required 0.33 units of blood per patient, whereas the controls required 0.76 units per patient (risk ratio 0.43, P = .008). CONCLUSION: A significant reduction in transfusion rate and a significant increase in hemoglobin values were observed in the erythropoietin group. No adverse events related to erythropoietin administration were recorded. A very short preoperative erythropoietin administration seems to be a safe and easy method to reduce the need for blood transfusions.