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03.01.2019 | REVIEW ARTICLE | Ausgabe 1/2019

Langenbeck's Archives of Surgery 1/2019

Red blood cell transfusion in liver resection

Langenbeck's Archives of Surgery > Ausgabe 1/2019
Nicholas Latchana, Dhruvin H. Hirpara, Julie Hallet, Paul J. Karanicolas



Several modalities exist for the management of hepatic neoplasms. Resection, the most effective approach, carries significant risk of hemorrhage. Blood loss may be corrected with red blood cell transfusion (RBCT) in the short term, but may ultimately contribute to negative outcomes.


Using available literature, we seek to define the frequency and risk factors of blood loss and transfusion following hepatectomy. The impact of blood loss and RBCT on short- and long-term outcomes is explored with an emphasis on peri-operative methods to reduce hemorrhage and transfusion.


Following hepatic surgery, 25.2–56.8% of patients receive RBCT. Patients who receive RBCT are at increased risk of surgical morbidity in a dose-dependent manner. The relationship between blood transfusion and surgical mortality is less apparent. RBCT might also impact long-term oncologic outcomes including disease recurrence and overall survival. Risk factors for bleeding and blood transfusion include hemoglobin concentration < 12.5 g/dL, thrombocytopenia, pre-operative biliary drainage, presence of background liver disease (such as cirrhosis), coronary artery disease, male gender, tumor characteristics (type, size, location, presence of vascular involvement), extent of hepatectomy, concomitant extrahepatic organ resection, and operative time. Strategies to mitigate blood loss or transfusion include pre-operative (iron, erythropoietin), intra-operative (vascular occlusion, parenchymal transection techniques, hemostatic agents, antifibrinolytics, low central pressure, hemodilution, autologous blood recycling), and post-operative (normothermia, correction of coagulopathy, optimization of nutrition, restrictive transfusion strategy) methods.


Blood loss during hepatectomy is common and several risk factors can be identified pre-operatively. Blood loss and RBCT during hepatectomy is associated with post-operative morbidity and mortality. Disease-free recurrence, disease-specific survival, and overall survival may be associated with blood loss and RBCT during hepatectomy. Attention to pre-operative, intra-operative, and post-operative strategies to reduce blood loss and RBCT is necessary.

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