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Innovation at London Bridge Hospital avoids blood transfusions and aids patient recovery

13 October 2009

Perfusionists at London Bridge Hospital have succeeded in reducing the number of blood transfusions during operations by recovering and recycling patient’s own blood.

Chief Perfusionist Alan Rayner and his team have combined a range of specialised techniques along with the latest technology to reduce damage to blood, and more efficient ways of recycling a patient’s blood during a major operation, thereby reducing the level of blood loss during and after operations.

“There are obviously situations where transfusion is essential, or cases where blood cannot be recycled but for many elective operations good preparation and technique during the procedure can reduce the need for donated blood and recovery can be faster,” said Mr Rayner.

“However well matched blood is, transfusions can result in increased time spent in intensive care and recovery can be delayed.  By analysing the patient’s blood clotting characteristics before an operation, which can now be done at the bedside, we can prepare for anticipated bleeding” he said. “We can also use the autologous fibrin sealant produced from a patient blood sample at the time of surgery and apply it to tissue to reduce bleeding and improve healing.”

“London Bridge is one of the first hospitals in the country to use this extensive range of techniques to reduce bleeding and avoid unnecessary blood transfusions.  We are extremely fortunate in having the very latest technology and a tremendous team of Surgeons, Anaesthetists, Perfusion Scientists and Nurses and I can foresee many more major procedures in cardiac, vascular, urology, gynaecology and orthopaedic surgery taking place without the need for transfusions,” said Mr Rayner.

Cardiac surgeon Mr Graham Venn and Consultant Anaesthetist, Dr Stuart McCorkell said that the pioneering work of the London Bridge perfusionists had led to better patient outcomes.

“The perfusion department has adapted contemporary perfusion structures to provide the best operative environment during cardiac surgery,” said Mr Venn. “This foundation, coupled with the implementation of sophisticated techniques for blood conservation, together with detailed analysis of the patient’s post operative clotting profile, has resulted in a ‘leading edge’ service being delivered to our patients.”

Dr. McCorkell agreed.  “By providing cell salvage, fibrin glues and growth factors manufactured from the patient’s own blood and highly accurate real time tests of blood clotting, we are also able to minimise the risk of exposure to the hazards of transfusions to the patients.”