Definition of Bloodless Surgery

Bloodless Surgery – Specialized techniques that allow surgeons to perform major operations to avoid the need for blood transfusion. Many people oppose blood transfusion on the basis of religious beliefs and others because they have concerns about the safety of donated blood.

Though stringent screening and testing procedures for donated blood have minimized the risk of acquired infection from the US blood supply, a slight risk of this remains for whole blood and certain blood products.

Performing surgery when blood transfusion is not an option requires careful planning. When the operation is elective (nonemergency) the person can prepare by taking medications such as erythropoietin (epo) to boost his or her erythrocyte (red blood cell) production and donating his or her own blood in advance of the surgery for use if a transfusion becomes necessary.

Having more erythrocytes means the blood can carry more oxygen, which encourages healing. It also allows the surgeon to administer intravenous fluids during surgery to maintain adequate fluid volume without concern for diluting the blood to the extent that anemia develops.

During the operation, whether elective or emergency, the surgeon can use methods to collect any blood the person loses, filter it, and return it to the person instead of transfusing donor blood. Surgeons also use precision techniques that minimize blood loss when they perform bloodless operations. Sometimes these techniques are time consuming, which makes the surgery more expensive. However, many of the surgical techniques surgeons use for bloodless surgery have become standard for all operations of the same type because they reduce the risk for postoperative infection and encourage more rapid healing and recovery.

Emergency bloodless surgery can be more of a challenge, particularly when there are bleeding injuries that deplete the blood supply even before surgery begins. Fluid expanders sometimes can maintain the body’s fluid level without impairing the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Bloodless surgery techniques and blood recycling become essential when the operation is an emergency.


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