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The loss of 50% blood volume is one accepted definition of massive haemorrhage, which ordinarily would trigger the massive transfusion protocol, involving the administration of high ratios of fresh frozen plasma and platelets to allogeneic red cells. We investigated 53 patients who experienced >50% blood loss during open elective abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery to assess allogeneic blood component usage and coagulopathy. Specialist patient blood management practitioners used a tailored cell salvage technique including swab wash to maximise blood return. We assessed the proportion of patients who did not require allogeneic blood components and develop evidence of coagulopathy by thromboelastography (TEG) parameters. Blood loss was 50%-174% (mean [SD] 68% [27%]) of blood volume. The mean (SD) intraoperative decrease in haemoglobin concentration, assessed by arterial blood gas analysis, was 5 (13) g/l. No patient received allogeneic red cells intraoperatively. Four of the 53 (8%) patients received blood components in the first 24 h postoperatively at the anaesthetists' discretion. No patient had intraoperative TEG changes indicative of fibrinolysis or coagulopathy. The 30-day mortality was 2% (one of 53). Reduction of allogeneic transfusion is one aim of patient blood management techniques. We have demonstrated virtual avoidance of allogeneic blood product transfusion despite massive blood loss. These data show possible alternatives to the current massive transfusion protocols to the management of elective vascular surgical patients.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Haematol

Publication Date



abdominal aortic aneurysm, coagulation, intraoperative cell salvage, massive transfusion protocol, thromboelastography, vascular surgery