Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Ann Card Anaesth. 2013 Apr-Jun;16(2):117-25.
Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, London Health Sciences Centre, University Hospital, 339 Windermere Road, London, N6A 5A5, Ontario, Canada.
Cardiac surgery exerts a significant strain on the blood bank services and is a model example in which a multi-modal blood-conservation strategy is recommended. Significant bleeding during cardiac surgery, enough to cause re-exploration and/or blood transfusion, increases morbidity and mortality. Hyper-fibrinolysis is one of the important contributors to increased bleeding. This knowledge has led to the use of anti-fibrinolytic agents especially in procedures performed under cardiopulmonary bypass. Nothing has been more controversial in recent times than the aprotinin controversy. Since the withdrawal of aprotinin from the world market, the choice of antifibrinolytic agents has been limited to lysine analogues either tranexamic acid (TA) or epsilon amino caproic acid (EACA). While proponents of aprotinin still argue against its non-availability. Health Canada has approved its use, albeit under very strict regulations. Antifibrinolytic agents are not without side effects and act like double-edged swords, the stronger the anti-fibrinolytic activity, the more serious the side effects. Aprotinin is the strongest in reducing blood loss, blood transfusion, and possibly, return to the operating room after cardiacsurgery. EACA is the least effective, while TA is somewhere in between. Additionally, aprotinin has been implicated in increased mortality and maximum side effects. TA has been shown to increase seizure activity, whereas, EACA seems to have the least side effects. Apparently, these agents do not differentiate between pathological and physiological fibrinolysis and prevent all forms of fibrinolysis leading to possible thrombotic side effects. It would seem prudent to select the right agent knowing its risk-benefit profile for a given patient, under the given circumstances.
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