It has been suggested that a larger heparin dose during cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) is associated with reduced perioperative coagulopathy and thromboembolic complications. We investigated the effect of different heparin doses during routine elective cardiac surgery. Our primary outcomes include blood loss and transfusion and secondary outcomes investigate the effects on coagulation biomarkers.
In this prospective pilot trial, we allocated 60 patients undergoing cardiac surgery on CPB in a single tertiary cardiac centre into three groups to receive an initial dose of 300, 400, or 500 units (U) per kilogram of intravenous heparin prior to the commencement of CPB. Blood was sampled after induction of anesthesia, at 30 and 60 min of CPB, and three minutes after heparin reversal with protamine. Samples were analyzed for fibrinopeptide A (FPA), fibrinopeptide B (FPB), D-dimer, and thrombin-antithrombin (TAT) complexes. Postoperative blood loss and transfusion was measured for the first 24-hr period after surgery.
The total mean (95% CI) administered heparin dose in the 300 U·kg−1, 400 U·kg−1, and 500 U·kg−1 groups were 39,975 (36,528 to 43,421) U, 43,195 (36,940 to 49,449) U and 47,900 (44,807 to 50,992) U, respectively. There were no statistically significant differences in FPA, FPB or D-dimer levels at the measured time intervals. There was a trend towards lower TAT levels while on CPB with greater heparin dosing, which was statistically significant after the administration of protamine. The clinical significance appears to be negligible, as there is no difference in overall blood loss and amount of packed red blood cell transfusion or other blood product transfusion.
This pilot study indicates that, while larger heparin dosing for routine cardiac surgery results in subtle biochemical changes in coagulation, there is no demonstrable benefit in postoperative blood loss or transfusion requirements.