METHODS: The study involved a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials evaluating the use of preoperative erythropoietin. The primary outcome was the reported incidence of allogeneic red blood cell transfusions during inpatient hospitalizations. Secondary outcomes included phase-specific allogeneic red blood cell transfusions (ie, intraoperative, postoperative), intraoperative estimated blood loss, perioperative hemoglobin levels, length of stay, and thromboembolic events.
RESULTS: A total of 32 randomized controlled trials (n = 4750 patients) were included, comparing preoperative erythropoietin (n = 2482 patients) to placebo (n = 2268 patients). Preoperative erythropoietin is associated with a significant decrease in incidence of allogeneic blood transfusions among all patients (n = 28 studies; risk ratio, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.47–0.73; P < .001) as well as patients undergoing cardiac (n = 9 studies; risk ratio, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.37–0.81; P = .003) and elective orthopedic (n = 5 studies; risk ratio, 0.36; 95% CI, 0.28–0.46; P < .001) surgery compared to placebo, respectively. Preoperative erythropoietin was also associated with fewer phase-specific red blood cell transfusions. There was no difference between groups in incidence of thromboembolic events (n = 28 studies; risk ratio, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.78–1.33; P = .68).
CONCLUSIONS: Preoperative erythropoietin is associated with a significant reduction in perioperative allogeneic blood transfusions. This finding is also confirmed among the subset of patients undergoing cardiac and orthopedic surgery. Furthermore, our study demonstrates no significant increase in risk of thromboembolic complications with preoperative erythropoietin administration.
- Questions: Does the use of preoperative erythropoietin decrease the risk of exposure to perioperative allogeneic blood transfusions?
- Findings: Preoperative erythropoietin significantly decreases the risk of allogeneic blood transfusions without significantly increasing the risk of venous thromboembolisms.
- Meaning: Newer randomized controlled trials are needed to evaluate the dosing and timeframe for optimal preoperative erythropoietin efficacy.