Maria J. Colomina, Juan Bagó, Ferran Pellisé, Carmen Godet, Carlos Villanueva

June 2004, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp S40 - S49 Review Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-004-0754-9

First Online: 09 June 2004

Spine surgery may be associated with profuse intraoperative bleeding that often requires blood transfusions. In recent years several techniques have been developed to avoid allogenic transfusions and their potential complications to surgical patients. In this study we review and analyse the role of preoperative recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) administration in spine surgery as a blood conservation strategy. Between 1998 and 2002, a total of 250 patients scheduled for spine surgery were included in our blood-sparing program: 114 patients (group 1), operated on before rHuEPO approval (2000), underwent preoperative autologous blood donation (ABD) alone, and 136 patients operated on after rHuEPO approval (groups 2 and 3) received rHuEPO while undergoing ABD. Adding rHuEPO to ABD resulted in higher haemoglobin and haematocrit values the day of surgery, more ABD units retrieved per patient and, consequently, reduced allogenic transfusion requirements. The effectiveness of rHuEPO as the only preoperative blood conservation technique was evaluated in ten patients with a predicted blood loss of less than 30% of their total volume, scheduled for lumbar surgery. Data from these patients were matched with those from a similar group of patients who had undergone ABD. Patients receiving rHuEPO alone had higher haemoglobin levels the day of surgery than did patients in the ABD program. Neither group required allogenic transfusions. Conclusions: preoperative rHuEPO is useful for reducing allogenic blood requirements in elective spine surgery. In patients with an expected blood loss of around 50% of blood volume, rHuEPO improves ABD, minimising preoperative anaemia and increasing the number of ABD units collected. In patients with expected blood loss below 30% of total volume, rHuEPO administration may replace ABD.

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