Health Watch -- Blood for Surgery

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Fresh blood may not be the best choice for infant heart surgery. Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas recently found that reconstituted blood made from frozen plasma and packed blood cells worked best for surgery to correct congenital heart defects in infants.

The blood is used to prime the cardiopulmonary bypass machine, which does the work of the heart and lungs during surgery. Extra blood is needed to prime the machine for surgery on infants because they don't have enough blood for both the machine and their bodies.

Doctors traditionally use whole blood to prime the machine. The UT Southwestern researchers found that when the reconstituted blood was used, babies spent less time in intensive care and less time on mechanical ventilation after surgery. While the reconstituted blood costs more, the shorter stay in intensive care makes up for that cost.



Nov. 2004

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