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Impact of Perioperative Allogeneic Red Blood Cell Transfusion on Recurrence and Overall Survival After Resection of Colorectal Liver Metastases

Schiergens, Tobias S. M.D.; Rentsch, Markus M.D.; Kasparek, Michael S. M.D.; Frenes, Katharina M.D.; Jauch, Karl-Walter M.D.; Thasler, Wolfgang E. M.D.

Diseases of the Colon & Rectum: January 2015 - Volume 58 - Issue 1 - p 74–82
doi: 10.1097/DCR.0000000000000233
Original Contributions: Colorectal/Anal Neoplasia

BACKGROUND: Perioperative allogeneic red blood cell transfusion has been conclusively shown to be associated with adverse oncologic outcomes after resection of nonmetastatic colorectal adenocarcinoma.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to identify risk factors for a perioperative transfusion and to assess the effects of transfusion on survival after curative-intended resection of hepatic metastases in patients featuring stage IV colorectal cancer.

DESIGN: This was an observational study with a retrospective analysis of a prospective data collection.

SETTING: The study was conducted at a tertiary care center.

PATIENTS: A total of 292 patients undergoing curative-intended liver resection for colorectal liver metastases were included in the study.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed identifying factors influencing transfusion, recurrence-free survival, and overall survival.

RESULTS: A total of 106 patients (36%) received allogeneic red blood cells. Female sex (p = 0.00004), preoperative anemia (p = 0.001), major intraoperative blood loss (p < 0.00001), and major postoperative complications (p = 0.02) were independently associated with the necessity of transfusion. Median recurrence-free and overall survival were 58 months. Allogeneic red blood cell transfusion was significantly associated with reduced recurrence-free survival (32 vs 72 months; p = 0.008). It was reduced further by administration of >2 units (27 months; p = 0.02). Overall survival was not significantly influenced by transfusion (48 vs 63 months; p = 0.08). When multivariately adjusted for major intraoperative blood loss and factors univariately associated, namely comorbidities, tumor load, and positive resection margins, transfusion was an independent predictor for reduced recurrence-free survival (p = 0.03).

LIMITATIONS: These include the retrospective and observational design, as well as the impossibility to prove causality of the association between transfusion and poor outcome.

CONCLUSIONS: In patients undergoing liver resection for colorectal liver metastases, perioperative transfusion is independently associated with earlier disease recurrence. This emphasizes appropriate blood management measures, including the conservative correction of preoperative anemia, the use of low transfusion triggers, and the minimization of intraoperative blood loss.

See related Editorial on p. 3

Department of General, Visceral, Transplantation, Vascular, and Thoracic Surgery, University of Munich, Campus Grosshadern, Munich, Germany

Financial Disclosure: None reported.

Correspondence: Wolfgang E. Thasler, M.D., Department of General, Visceral, Transplantation, Vascular, and Thoracic Surgery, University of Munich, Campus Grosshadern, Marchioninistr 15, D-81377 Munich, Germany. E-mail:

© 2015 The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons