Background: Although used routinely in pediatric patients, ultrafiltration techniques that reverse hemodilution are infrequently used in adults. Data from small, unblinded clinical trials suggest that the use of ultrafiltration can reduce inflammatory mediators, improve cardiac function, and reduce hemodilution. We conducted a meta-analysis of randomized trials to evaluate the effects of ultrafiltration on blood transfusions and blood loss following adult cardiac surgery.
Methods: Medline, EMBASE, and Cochrane databases were searched and randomized controlled trials evaluating modified and/or conventional ultrafiltration, meeting pre-determined selection criteria, were obtained. Quality evaluation and data extraction were performed by two independent observers blinded to study source. Random effects models were used to determine pooled effect estimates and sources of heterogeneity were explored using meta-regression.
Results: One hundred and thirty two studies were screened and 10 randomized trials evaluating 1004 patients (control, n = 495; ultrafiltration, n = 509) were identified of which only two were double-blinded. The use of ultrafiltration was associated with a reduction in postoperative blood transfusions (weighted mean difference [95% CI] of -0.73 units [-1.16, -0.31]; p = 0.001). This reduction was greater in studies evaluating modified ultrafiltration. Use of ultrafiltration was also associated with reduced postoperative bleeding (-70 ml, [-118, -21]; p = 0.005), which was driven primarily by trials evaluating modified rather than conventional ultrafiltration.
Conclusions: Use of ultrafiltration is associated with a significant reduction in postoperative blood transfusions as well as reduced bleeding in adults undergoing cardiac surgery. The efficacy and cost-effectiveness of ultrafiltration as a blood conservations strategy should be evaluated in a large, randomized, double-blinded study.