March 31, 2006
CONTACT: Susanne Hartman
Skip the Blood, Lower the Risk, Reduce the Long
(Philadelphia, PA) - Transfusion-free cardiac surgery is now available at the University of Pennsylvania Health System to anyone who wants it and qualifies as a good candidate. Patients receive no foreign blood, reducing the risk of complications and a long hospital stay.
“It has been available to patients who refused a transfusion due to religious convictions, but most of the general public is still unaware this option now exists for them as well,” comments Charles R. Bridges, MD, ScD, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital and Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
“Traditionally, heart surgery is associated with the greatest blood loss of all surgical procedures so it is a technological challenge to routinely perform open-heart surgery without a transfusion. But we have a unique combination of skills and a coordinated team that is not commonly available elsewhere. We have the infrastructure in place to perform these bloodless surgeries often and well,” states Bridges. “Not everyone will be a good candidate for this type of surgery, but I do predict that if patients meet certain criteria, more than 90% of them will be able to undergo heart surgery without receiving a blood transfusion.”
PREPPING YOUR OWN BLOOD…
Ford further explains that the earlier she sees a patient, the better the chance of obtaining an optimum level for surgery. “We prefer to conduct a hemoglobin screening 3-4 weeks before elective surgery. This transfusion-free option lets you decrease your risk of side effects or adverse reactions, as well as keep the blood inside your own body at all times. You can build it up before the surgery and use the techniques to limit the blood you lose during surgery.”
In traditional open-heart surgery, on average, one to two units of blood are used in a typical operation, but a patient could receive up to seven units. The patient often also receives up to four or more units of plasma and may receive six or twelve units of platelets.
“The beauty of this option, if you choose it for reasons other
than religious convictions, is that if you have it done, you can still
get a transfusion during surgery to save your life if it becomes medically
necessary,” states Bridges. “However, by and large, we predict
we’d be able to get the vast majority of these patients through
open-heart surgery without requiring any blood. The patient doesn’t
have to worry about contracting diseases that are transmitted through
WHY PATIENTS ARE CHOOSING THIS OPTION…
Shapiro walked away, days later, with one small scar. His surgeon, Dr. Charles Bridges, was able to make a tiny incision on his chest and separate his ribs gently, avoiding the need to “crack” his chest. The incision is about two inches long, under the breast crease, making it almost impossible to detect even by other physicians.
“I never even thought of the bloodless surgery option until I had my initial meeting with Dr. Bridges and asked him, ‘Should I give my own blood for the operation?’ He explained the option and how it was done and it was almost that simple,” said Shapiro. “It was one less thing to do. I didn’t have to give any blood to begin with. I was already anxious about making this repair happen as quickly as possible. I didn’t want a waiting period for the surgery. I thought, ‘Why not give this a shot!’”
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