Professor Alistair Royse (left) in surgery. Picture: Paul Burston/University of Melbourne.
17 September 2018
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A six month follow up on patients enrolled in world’s largest study into blood transfusion during heart surgery has shown it’s safe and effective to restrict red cell transfusions.

Australia’s lead investigator for the Transfusion Triggers in Cardiac Surgery Trial (TRICS-III) international study, Cardiothoracic Surgeon at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Professor Alistair Royse, said the follow up study has provided valuable insight into amount of red cell transfusions needed during surgery.

“This is the largest study of its kind and the results of our six month follow up will help us look at clinical practice across the globe,” Professor Royse said.

“By better understanding the benefits of restricting or being liberal with red cell transfusions during cardiopulmonary surgery, we are able to use the clinical evidence to give the best amount of blood to the right patient.

“There are also significant benefits in using less blood during surgery, and these findings will further support the reduced usage of red blood cell transfusions. What we have found was similar outcomes for patients with the restrictive practice and this could reduced reliance on blood services within Australia.”

Of the 5243 adults enrolled in the study, a subset of patients over 85 years benefited the most when red cell transfusions were restricted during the surgery. This is surprising as it is contrary to conventional practice.

The Australian arm of the study which received $1.4 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council, involved more than 620 patients across 12 hospitals in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.

The Six-Month Outcomes after Restrictive or Liberal Transfusion for Cardiac Surgery paper was presented in August at the European Society of Cardiology Annual Congress in Munich, Germany by Dr. David Mazer, principal investigator on the study. The study was simultaneously published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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