Postoperative coagulopathic bleeding is common in cardiac surgery and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Ideally, real-time information on in-vivo coagulation should be available. However, up to now it is unclear which perioperative coagulation parameters can be used best to accurately identify patients at increased risk of bleeding. The present study analyzed the associations of perioperative fibrinogen concentrations and whole blood viscoelastic tests with postoperative bleeding in 89 patients undergoing combined cardiac surgery procedures. Postoperative bleeding was recorded until 24 hours after surgery. Regression analyses were performed to establish associations between blood loss and coagulation parameters after cardiopulmonary bypass including a prediction model with known confounding factors for bleeding. Coagulation tests show large changes over the perioperative course with the strongest coagulopathic deviations from baseline after cardiopulmonary bypass. After adjustment for multiple confounders, viscoelastic clot strength instead of fibrinogen concentration showed a similar performance for 24 hour blood loss and a better performance for 6 hour blood loss. This makes intraoperative viscoelastic testing a useful tool to strengthen early clinical decision-making with the potential to reduce perioperative blood transfusions.
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