Meta-analysis of the Sources of Bleeding after Adult Cardiac Surgery

J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth. 2018 Aug;32(4):1618-1624. doi: 10.1053/j.jvca.2017.12.024. Epub 2017 Dec 13.


Objective: The aim of this study was to pool data on the proportion and prognostic impact of sources of bleeding in patients requiring re-exploration after adult cardiac surgery.

Design: Systematic review of the literature and meta-analysis.

Setting: Multistitutional study.

Measurements and main results: A literature review was performed to identify studies published since 1990 evaluating the outcome after reoperation for bleeding or tamponade after adult cardiac surgery. Eighteen studies including 5,1497 patients fulfilled the selection criteria. Reoperation for bleeding/tamponade was performed in 2,455 patients (4.6%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.9%-5.2%, I2 92%). These had a significantly higher risk of in-hospital/30-day mortality compared with patients not reoperated for bleeding (pooled rates: 9.3% v 2.3%; risk ratio 3.30; 95% CI 2.52-4.32; I2 47%; 8 studies; 25,463 patients). Surgical sites of bleeding were identified in 65.7% of cases (95% CI 58.3%-73.2%; I2 94%), cardiac site bleeding in 40.9% of cases (95% CI 29.7%-52.0%; I2 94%), and mediastinal/sternum site bleeding in 27.0% of cases (95% CI 16.8%-37.3%; I2 94%). The main sites of bleeding were the body of the graft (20.2%), the sternum (17.0%), vascular sutures (12.5%), the internal mammary artery harvest site (13.0%), and anastomoses (9.9%). In metaregression, surgical site bleeding was associated with a lower risk of in-hospital/30-day mortality compared with diffuse bleeding (p = 0.003).

Conclusions: Surgical site bleeding is identified in two-thirds of patients undergoing re-exploration after adult cardiac surgery. Meticulous surgical technique and systematic intraoperative checking of potential surgical sites of bleeding at the time of the original cardiac surgery may reduce the risk of such a severe complication.

Keywords: bleeding; cardiac surgery; coronary artery bypass; re-exploration; resternotomy; surgical source.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / trends
  • Humans
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / diagnosis*
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / etiology*
  • Reoperation / adverse effects*
  • Reoperation / trends
  • Risk Factors