Background: Hypotensive anesthesia is routinely used during craniosynostosis corrections to reduce blood loss. Noting that cerebral oxygenation levels often fell below recommended levels, the authors sought to measure the effects of hypotensive versus standard anesthesia on blood transfusion rates.
Methods: One hundred children undergoing craniosynostosis corrections were randomized prospectively into two groups: a target mean arterial pressure of either 50 mm Hg or 60 mm Hg. Aside from anesthesiologists, caregivers were blinded and strict transfusion criteria were followed. Multiple variables were analyzed, and appropriate statistical testing was performed.
Results: The hypotensive and standard groups appeared similar, with no statistically significant differences in mean age (46.5 months versus 46.5 months), weight (19.25 kg versus 19.49 kg), procedure [anterior remodeling (34 versus 31) versus posterior (19 versus 16)], or preoperative hemoglobin level (13 g/dl versus 12.9 g/dl). Intraoperative mean arterial pressures differed significantly (56 mm Hg versus 66 mm Hg; p < 0.001). The captured cell saver amount was lower in the hypotensive group (163 cc versus 204 cc; p = 0.02), yet no significant differences were noted in postoperative hemoglobin levels (8.8 g/dl versus 9.3 g/dl). Fifteen of 100 patients (15 percent) received allogenic transfusions, but no statistically significant differences were noted in transfusion rates between the hypotensive [nine of 53 (17.0 percent)] and standard anesthesia [six of 47 (13 percent)] group (p = 0.056).
Conclusions: No significant difference in transfusion requirements was found between hypotensive and standard anesthesia during craniosynostosis corrections. Considering potential benefits of improved cerebral blood flow and total body perfusion, surgeons might consider performing craniosynostosis corrections without hypotension.
Clinical question/level of evidence: Therapeutic, II.