Platelet transfusion is common in cardiac surgery, but some studies have suggested an association with harm. Accordingly, we investigated the association of perioperative platelet transfusion with morbidity and mortality.
We conducted a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data from the Australian Society of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgeons National Cardiac Surgery Database. We included consecutive adults from 2005 to 2018 across 40 centers. We used inverse probability of treatment weighting via entropy balancing to investigate the association of perioperative platelet transfusion with our 2 primary outcomes, operative mortality (composite of both 30-day and in-hospital mortality) and 90-day mortality, as well as multiple other clinically relevant secondary outcomes.
Among 119,132 eligible patients, 25,373 received perioperative platelets and 93,759 were considered controls. After entropy balancing, platelet transfusion was associated with reduced operative mortality (odds ratio [OR], 0.63; 99% confidence interval [CI], 0.47–0.84; P < .0001) and 90-day mortality (OR, 0.66; 99% CI, 0.51–0.85; P < .0001). Moreover, it was associated with reduced odds of deep sternal wound infection (OR, 0.57; 99% CI, 0.36–0.89; P = .0012), acute kidney injury (OR, 0.84; 99% CI, 0.71–0.99; P = .0055), and postoperative renal replacement therapy (OR, 0.71; 99% CI, 0.54–0.93; P = .0013). These positive associations were observed despite an association with increased odds of return to theatre for bleeding (OR, 1.55; 99% CI, 1.16–2.09; P < .0001), pneumonia (OR, 1.26; 99% CI, 1.11–1.44; P < .0001), intubation for longer than 24 hours postoperatively (OR, 1.13; 99% CI, 1.03–1.24; P = .0012), inotrope use for >4 hours postoperatively (OR, 1.14; 99% CI, 1.11–1.17; P < .0001), readmission to hospital within 30 days of surgery (OR, 1.22; 99% CI, 1.11–1.34; P < .0001), as well as increased drain tube output (adjusted mean difference, 89.2 mL; 99% CI, 77.0 mL–101.4 mL; P < .0001).
In cardiac surgery patients, perioperative platelet transfusion was associated with reduced operative and 90-day mortality. Until randomized controlled trials either confirm or refute these findings, platelet transfusion should not be deliberately avoided when considering odds of death.