Background: The long-term impact of transfusions with packed red blood cells (PRBC) among patients undergoing hepatopancreaticobiliary (HPB) surgery remains ill-defined. We sought to determine the impact of overall blood utilization, as well as a restrictive transfusion strategy, on long-term outcomes among patients undergoing an HPB resection for a malignancy. Methods: Data on overall blood utilization and hemoglobin (Hb) levels that triggered a transfusion were obtained for patients with cancer undergoing pancreas or liver surgery between 2009 and 2013. Risk-adjusted recurrence-free (RFS) and overall survival (OS) were assessed based on receipt of PRBC and whether the patient received a transfusion using a restrictive transfusion strategy (intraoperative: Hb <10 g/dL; postoperative: Hb <8 g/dL). Results: Four hundred forty-two patients underwent either a pancreas (58.1 %) or liver (41.9 %) resection. Most tumors were pancreatic in origin (41.8 %), while a subset were primary (23.1 %) or secondary (18.8 %) liver tumors. One hundred seventy-five (39.6 %) patients received ≥1 PRBC transfusion either intraoperatively (16.7 %), postoperatively (12.7 %), or both (10.2 %). There was a higher incidence of PRBC transfusion among patients undergoing a pancreas resection, those with higher comorbidities, and those with lower preoperative Hb levels. Perioperative morbidity was higher among patients receiving either 1–2 units (OR 3.14) or 3 or more units of PRBC (OR 8.54). Median OS was 31.9 months. Receipt of a blood transfusion was associated with a worse OS (1–2 units: HR 1.76; 3 + units: HR 2.50; both P < 0.05), and RFS (3 + units: HR 2.91; P = 0.02). Utilization of a restrictive transfusion strategy did not impact perioperative morbidity or long-term RFS or OS. Conclusions: Adoption of a more restrictive transfusion strategy in patients undergoing resection for cancer may preserve a limited resource, reduce costs, as well as avoid exposing oncology patients to the unnecessary risks associated with a transfusion.
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