August 21, 2018 – Transfusions and Clots


Anchor lead: Having a blood transfusion around the time of surgery may lead to blood clots, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Abnormal blood clotting known as venous thromboembolism can be a killer, if the clot travels to the brain, heart or lungs. Now a study by Aaron Tobian, a transfusion expert at Johns Hopkins, pinpoints just how risky blood transfusions used around the time of surgery can be with regard to blood clot formation.

Tobian: There’s an increasing number of studies that actually suggested red blood cell transfusions may have a role in the development of blood clots. In this study we aimed to assess whether red blood cell transfusion given before, during or after surgery was associated with increased blood clots within thirty days of the surgical procedure. In our study of more than ¾ of a million surgical patients, we actually found that red blood cell transfusion were associated with a twofold increased risk of a thrombotic event  :34

Tobian notes that  conservative strategies are already employed relative to transfusions, and that transfusions are generally safe. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.