Excessive postoperative bleeding after heart operations continues to be a source of morbidity. This prospective double-blind study evaluated epsilon-aminocaproic acid as an agent to reduce postoperative bleeding and investigated its mode of action. One hundred three patients were randomly assigned to receive either 30 gm epsilon-aminocaproic acid (51 patients) or an equivalent volume of placebo (52 patients). In a subset of these patients (14 epsilon-aminocaproic acid, 12 placebo), tests of platelet function and fibrinolysis were performed.
Results: By multivariate analysis, three factors were associated with decreased blood loss in the first 24 hours after operation: epsilon-aminocaproic acid versus placebo (647 ml versus 839 ml, p = 0.004), surgeon 1 versus all other surgeons (582 ml versus 978 ml, p = 0.002), and no intraaortic balloon versus intraaortic balloon pump use (664 ml versus 1410 ml, p = 0.02). No significant differences in platelet function could be demonstrated between the two groups. Inhibited fibrinolysis, as reflected by less depression of the euglobulin clot lysis and no rise in D-dimer levels, was significant in the epsilon-aminocaproic acid group compared with the placebo group.
Conclusion: The intraoperative use of epsilon-aminocaproic acid reduces postoperative cardiac surgical bleeding.