Restrictive versus liberal transfusion in patients with diabetes undergoing cardiac surgery: An open-label, randomized, blinded outcome evaluation trial

Diabetes Obes Metab. 2022 Mar;24(3):421-431. doi: 10.1111/dom.14591. Epub 2021 Nov 17.


Aim: To characterize the association between diabetes and transfusion and clinical outcomes in cardiac surgery, and to evaluate whether restrictive transfusion thresholds are harmful in these patients.

Materials and methods: The multinational, open-label, randomized controlled TRICS-III trial assessed a restrictive transfusion strategy (haemoglobin [Hb] transfusion threshold <75 g/L) compared with a liberal strategy (Hb <95 g/L for operating room or intensive care unit; or <85 g/L for ward) in patients undergoing cardiac surgery on cardiopulmonary bypass with a moderate-to-high risk of death (EuroSCORE ≥6). Diabetes status was collected preoperatively. The primary composite outcome was all-cause death, stroke, myocardial infarction, and new-onset renal failure requiring dialysis at 6 months. Secondary outcomes included components of the composite outcome at 6 months, and transfusion and clinical outcomes at 28 days.

Results: Of the 5092 patients analysed, 1396 (27.4%) had diabetes (restrictive, n = 679; liberal, n = 717). Patients with diabetes had more cardiovascular disease than patients without diabetes. Neither the presence of diabetes (OR [95% CI] 1.10 [0.93-1.31]) nor the restrictive strategy increased the risk for the primary composite outcome (diabetes OR [95% CI] 1.04 [0.68-1.59] vs. no diabetes OR 1.02 [0.85-1.22]; Pinteraction = .92). In patients with versus without diabetes, a restrictive transfusion strategy was more effective at reducing red blood cell transfusion (diabetes OR [95% CI] 0.28 [0.21-0.36]; no diabetes OR [95% CI] 0.40 [0.35-0.47]; Pinteraction = .04).

Conclusions: The presence of diabetes did not modify the effect of a restrictive transfusion strategy on the primary composite outcome, but improved its efficacy on red cell transfusion. Restrictive transfusion triggers are safe and effective in patients with diabetes undergoing cardiac surgery.

Keywords: cardiovascular disease; clinical trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Diabetes Mellitus* / epidemiology
  • Erythrocyte Transfusion / adverse effects
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Myocardial Infarction* / etiology


  • Hemoglobins