Perfusionist strategies for blood conservation in pediatric cardiac surgery

World J Cardiol. 2010 Feb 26;2(2):27-33. doi: 10.4330/wjc.v2.i2.27.


There is increasing concern about the safety of homologous blood transfusion during cardiac surgery, and a restrictive transfusion practice is associated with improved outcome. Transfusion-free pediatric cardiac surgery is unrealistic for the vast majority of procedures in neonates or small infants; however, considerable progress has been made by using techniques that decrease the need for homologous blood products or even allow bloodless surgery in older infants and children. These techniques involve a decrease in prime volume by downsizing the bypass circuit with the help of vacuum-assisted venous drainage, microplegia, autologous blood predonation with or without infusion of recombinant (erythropoietin), cell salvaging, ultrafiltration and retrograde autologous priming. The three major techniques which are simple, safe, efficient, and cost-effective are: a prime volume as small as possible, cardioplegia with negligible hydric balance and circuit residual blood salvaged without any alteration. Furthermore, these three techniques can be used for all the patients, including emergencies and small babies. In every pediatric surgical unit, a strategy to decrease or avoid blood bank transfusion must be implemented. A strategy to minimize transfusion requirement requires a combined effort involving the entire surgical team with pre-, peri-, and postoperative planning and management.

Keywords: Autologous blood predonation; Blood conservation; Cardiopulmonary bypass; Cell-salvage; Microplegia; Pediatric open-heart surgery; Prime volume reduction; Retrograde autologous priming; Ultrafiltration; Vacuum-assisted venous drainage.