Mechanisms and attenuation of hemostatic activation during extracorporeal circulation

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Patients undergoing cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass are at risk for excessive microvascular bleeding, which often leads to transfusion of allogeneic blood and blood components as well as reexploration in a smaller subset of patients. Excessive bleeding after cardiac surgery is generally related to a combination of several alterations in the hemostatic system pertaining to hemodilution, excessive activation of the hemostatic system, and potentially the use of newer, longer-acting antiplatelet or antithrombotic agents. Although several nonpharmacologic strategies have been proposed, this review summarizes the role of pharmacologic interventions as means to attenuate the alterations in the hemostatic system during CPB in an attempt to reduce excessive bleeding, transfusion, and reexploration. Specifically, agents that inhibit platelets, fibrinolysis, factor Xa and thrombin, as well as broad-spectrum agents, have been investigated with respect to their role in reducing consumption of clotting factors and better preservation of platelet function. Prophylactic administration of agents with antifibrinolytic, anticoagulant, and possibly antiinflammatory properties can decrease blood loss and transfusion. Although aprotinin seems to be the most effective blood conservation agent (which is most likely related to its broad-spectrum nature), agents with isolated antifibrinolytic properties may be as effective in low-risk patients. The ability to reduce blood product transfusions and to decrease operative times and reexploration rates favorably affects patient outcomes, availability of blood products, and overall health care costs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S1821-S1831
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001


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