Variation in Platelet Transfusion Practices in Cardiac Surgery

Xun Zhou, Charles D. Fraser, Alejandro Suarez-Pierre, Todd C. Crawford, Diane Alejo, John Vic Conte, Jennifer S. Lawton, Clifford E. Fonner, Bradley S. Taylor, Glenn J.R. Whitman, Rawn Salenger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective Although the morbidity associated with red blood cell transfusion in cardiac surgery has been well described, the impacts of platelet transfusion are less clearly understood. Given the conflicting results of prior studies, we sought to investigate the impact of platelet transfusion on outcomes after cardiac surgery across institutions in Maryland. Methods Using a multiinstitutional statewide database created by the Maryland Cardiac Surgery Quality Initiative, we retrospectively analyzed data from 10,478 patients undergoing isolated coronary artery bypass across 10 centers. Platelet transfusion practices were compared between institutions. Multivariate logistic regression model was used to analyze the association between platelet transfusion and 30-day mortality and postoperative complications. Results Rates of platelet transfusion varied between institutions from 4.4% to 24.7% (P < 0.001), a difference that remained statistically significant in propensity score-matched cohorts. Among patients on preoperative antiplatelet therapy, transfusion rates varied from 8.5% to 46.4% (P < 0.001). There was no statistically significant relationship between case volume and transfusion rates (P = 0.815). In multivariate logistic regression, platelet transfusion was associated with increased risk of 30-day mortality (OR 2.43, P = 0.008), postoperative pneumonia (OR 2.21, P = 0.004), prolonged intubation (OR 2.05, P < 0.001), and readmission (OR 1.43, P = 0.039). Conclusions Significant variation existed in platelet transfusion rates between institutions, even after controlling for various risk factors. This variation may be associated with increased mortality and length of stay. Further study is warranted to better understand risks associated with platelet transfusion. Standardizing practice may help reduce risk and conserve resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-143
Number of pages10
JournalInnovations: Technology and Techniques in Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019


  • cardiac surgery
  • platelet transfusion
  • quality improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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