Physicians' Academy for Cardiovascular Education

Restrictive RBC transfusion strategy non-inferior to liberal approach in cardiac surgery

TRICS III – An International Multicenter Randomized Trial of Transfusion Triggers in Cardiac Surgery

Presented at ACC.17 Scientific Sessions in Anaheim, CA, USA by C.David Mazer (University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont, Canada)

News - Nov. 13, 2017

Main results

Conclusion

This study showed that a restrictive RBC transfusion strategy with 7.5 g/dL as trigger, reduces transfusion of allogenic RBSc and is non-inferior to a liberal strategy with 9.5 g/dL for mortality and major morbidity including myocardial infarction, stroke or new onset of renal failure with dialysis, in moderate to high-risk patients undergoing cardiac surgery.

During the press conference, dr. Frank W. Sellke (Brown Medical School and Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI) repeated that anemia during cardiac surgery is associated with increased mortality and rate of complications and that blood transfusions have been found to result in diminished short and long term survival after surgery, although the results of past studies have been inconsistent. He noted that projections suggest that there will be a lack of an adequate supply of blood in the future. He remarked that while the overall results demonstrated no significant difference in outcome between groups, a numerical benefit was seen in the restrictive group for the composite outcome and all components of the primary outcome except MI. That was not too unexpected if you look back to previous trials, but it was unknown thus far.

Sellke thought that the overall rate of transfusion seemed high, even in the restrictive group (>50%). Although he was very positive about the trial, Sellke had a few questions: he would be curious to know the 24 hour blood loss and what was the take back rate for bleeding in this study. Moreover, there was a 1.5 g/dL difference in Hb level between groups, but the final Hb was 9 g/dL in the restrictive group. Therefore, he wondered what the adherence to the protocol was, and could a higher threshold for transfusion be applied (6.5 g/dL)?

Moreover, he was curious about possible explanation of the counterintuitive finding that patients over 75 did better with a restrictive strategy. Lastly, these are very short-term results, and it would be equally important to know the long-term effects. During the Q&A, Mazer added that he was surprised as well about this age-effect. With several subanalyses they confirmed that indeed it was a differential effect. He thinks there might be several reasons, for instance preselection by surgeons to pick the ‘good elderly’. Alternatively, elderly patients may be more sensitive to the effects on inflammation or volume of transfusion. It is hypothesis-generating that this study did not find that a higher threshold should be applied to elderly patients, and the study clearly shows that a restrictive approach may be safe in these patients.

Disclosures

- Our reporting is based on the information provided at the AHA 2017 congress -

This study was published simultaneously at NEJM Watch webcast with dr. David Mazer on this subject

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