To evaluate the relationship between aspirin ingestion and postoperative bleeding complications, and to test the hypothesis that there is a subset of patients who are aspirin hyperresponders with a proclivity toward platelet dysfunction.
Despite numerous retrospective and prospective analyses, it is still controversial as to whether aspirin ingestion before coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is associated with significant postoperative bleeding.
Between January 1995 and December 1999, the records of 2,606 consecutive patients undergoing CABG were reviewed to identify patients with a history of aspirin ingestion up until the time of surgery. Aspirin ingestion was correlated with postoperative blood transfusion using multivariate analysis. In a subset of preoperative aspirin users (n = 40), bleeding times were measured before and after aspirin use. Flow cytometry was performed in another cohort of patients with known heart disease (n = 30) to determine the effect of aspirin on platelet surface receptors.
During the 5-year study period, 63% of the CABG patients were identified as aspirin users. Among these, 23.1% required blood transfusions compared with 19% for the nonusers. Non-red blood cell transfusions were more common in aspirin users, as was reexploration for bleeding. Stratification of these results according to the frequency of aspirin use showed that aspirin is an independent multivariate predictor of postoperative blood transfusion only in high-risk patients. In the prospective studies, aspirin treatment resulted in a significant increase in the template bleeding time, an increase in platelet PAR-1 thrombin receptor activity, and a decrease in the binding of platelets to monocytes.
The findings support the hypothesis that aspirin is associated with a greater likelihood of postoperative bleeding. A platelet function testing algorithm that combines preoperative risk factor assessment, template bleeding times, and flow cytometry may allow the identification of aspirin hyperresponders who are at increased risk for bleeding.
From the *Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky; †Department of Surgery, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland; and ‡Department of Cardiovascular Services, Marshall University School of Medicine, Huntington, West Virginia
Correspondence: Victor A. Ferraris, MD, PhD, Tyler Gill Professor & Chief, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center C-208, 800 Rose Street, Lexington, KY 40536-0084.
Presented at the 113th Annual Session of the Southern Surgical Association, December 3–5, 2001, Hot Springs, Virginia.
Accepted for publication December 2001.