Background: An inverse linear relationship has been reported between pre-operative fibrinogen levels and postoperative blood loss in cardiac surgery. However, recently high pre-operative fibrinogen levels have also been reported to be associated with increased blood transfusion and re-operation.
Objective: We tested the hypothesis that the relationship between pre-operative fibrinogen levels and severe peri-operative bleeding is not linear.
Design: A large-scale (n = 3883) single-centre retrospective study.
Setting: A tertiary care teaching hospital.
Patients: We analysed data from our institutional database which includes all patients above 18 years who underwent on-pump cardiac surgery through a sternotomy between September 2010 and May 2014.
Main outcome measures: Peri-operative severe bleeding adapted from the Universal Definition of Peri-operative Bleeding, class 3 or 4. The relationship between pre-operative fibrinogen levels and peri-operative severe bleeding was analysed by binary logistic regression. A cubic B-spline transformation was used to estimate the relationship between pre-operative fibrinogen level associated with excessive peri-operative bleeding.
Results: Severe peri-operative bleeding was observed in 957 (24.6%) patients. An L-shaped relationship was observed between pre-operative fibrinogen levels and 24-h postoperative blood loss. The relationship between pre-operative fibrinogen levels and severe peri-operative bleeding (i.e. Universal Definition of Peri-operative Bleeding class 3 or 4) was U-shaped: the risk of severe peri-operative bleeding bottomed at 3.3 g l when the upward sloping curve started at 5.8 g l with a steeper increase above 8.2 g l.
Conclusion: We reported a U-shaped relationship between severe peri-operative bleeding and pre-operative fibrinogen levels. While a low-level of fibrinogen appears to be associated with a high risk of bleeding, a high level does not necessarily protect the patient against such a risk and could even be a risk factor for peri-operative bleeding.