BACKGROUND: Erythropoietic-stimulating agents such as erythropoietin have been used as part of patient blood management programs to reduce or even avoid the use of allogeneic blood transfusions. We review the literature to evaluate the effect of preoperative erythropoietin use on the risk of exposure to perioperative allogeneic blood transfusions. METHODS: The study involved a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials evaluating the use of preoperative erythropoietin. The primary outcome was the reported incidence of allogeneic red blood cell transfusions during inpatient hospitalizations. Secondary outcomes included phase-specific allogeneic red blood cell transfusions (ie, intraoperative, postoperative), intraoperative estimated blood loss, perioperative hemoglobin levels, length of stay, and thromboembolic events. RESULTS: A total of 32 randomized controlled trials (n = 4750 patients) were included, comparing preoperative erythropoietin (n = 2482 patients) to placebo (n = 2268 patients). Preoperative erythropoietin is associated with a significant decrease in incidence of allogeneic blood transfusions among all patients (n = 28 studies; risk ratio, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.47-0.73; P <.001) as well as patients undergoing cardiac (n = 9 studies; risk ratio, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.37-0.81; P =.003) and elective orthopedic (n = 5 studies; risk ratio, 0.36; 95% CI, 0.28-0.46; P <.001) surgery compared to placebo, respectively. Preoperative erythropoietin was also associated with fewer phase-specific red blood cell transfusions. There was no difference between groups in incidence of thromboembolic events (n = 28 studies; risk ratio, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.78-1.33; P =.68). CONCLUSIONS: Preoperative erythropoietin is associated with a significant reduction in perioperative allogeneic blood transfusions. This finding is also confirmed among the subset of patients undergoing cardiac and orthopedic surgery. Furthermore, our study demonstrates no significant increase in risk of thromboembolic complications with preoperative erythropoietin administration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine