Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Objectives and limitations of bloodless medical care

Shander, Aryeha; Goodnough, Lawrence Tb

doi: 10.1097/
Transfusion medicine

Purpose of review To outline the rationale, limitations, and execution of bloodless medical and surgical programs, highlighting characteristics that contribute to successful outcomes.

Recent findings Clinical experiences with patients who refuse blood transfusions for religious reasons have provided valuable lessons and raise intriguing questions about the necessity of routine blood transfusions. Healthcare centers with bloodless medicine and surgery programs feature a novel concept of patient care aimed at improving outcomes. A one-tiered approach to minimize blood usage for all patients, regardless of religious beliefs, is being successfully adopted at an increasing number of institutions. Since most single blood-conservation techniques reduce blood usage by just 1–2 units, a series of integrated preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative conservation approaches is required. These include preoperative autologous donation, erythropoietic support, acute normovolemic hemodilution, individualized assessment of anemia tolerance, implementation of conservative transfusion thresholds, meticulous surgical techniques, and judicious use of phlebotomy and pharmacologic agents for limiting blood loss.

Summary The objectives of bloodless medicine and surgery programs are straightforward but require staff with expertise in transfusion medicine, intensive teamwork, patient-specific customization, careful planning, and integrated use of multimodal strategies.

aEnglewood Hospital and Medical Center, Englewood, New Jersey, USA

bStanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California, USA

Correspondence to Aryeh Shander MD, FCCP, FCCM, Chief, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care and Hyperbaric Medicine, Medical Director, New Jersey Institute for the Advancement of Bloodless Medicine and Surgery, Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, 350 Engle Street, Englewood, NJ 07631, USA Tel: +1 201 894 3238; fax: +1 201 894 0585; e-mail:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.