Postoperative Nadir Hemoglobin and Adverse Outcomes in Patients Undergoing On-Pump Cardiac Operation

Ann Thorac Surg. 2021 Sep;112(3):708-716


Patients undergoing cardiac operation are susceptible to anemia. Low hemoglobin concentration is a risk factor for composite adverse events and death after cardiac operation. Here we investigated the association of postoperative nadir hemoglobin with adverse outcomes in patients undergoing on-pump cardiac operation.


Adult patients in 2 medical centers were retrospectively analyzed. The primary outcome was postoperative composite adverse events. The secondary outcome was all-cause death in the hospital.


Of the 8206 patients analyzed, 1628 (19.8%) experienced composite adverse events after operation and 109 (1.3%) died. Patients receiving on-pump cardiac operation with nadir hemoglobin of 9.0 to 9.9 g/L showed a low incidence of composite adverse events (175 of 1423 [12.3%]) and death (5 of 1423 [0.4%]). Compared with nadir hemoglobin at 9.0 to 9.9 g/dL, the relative risk (RR) of composite adverse events increased stepwise as nadir hemoglobin fell below 9.0 g/dL: adjusted RR was 1.44 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.14-1.83) for 8.5 to 8.9 g/dL, 1.56 (95% CI, 1.23-1.99) for 8.0 to 8.4 g/dL, 1.66 (95% CI, 1.31-2.11) for 7.5 to 7.9 g/dL, 2.22 (95% CI, 1.75-2.83) for 7.0 to 7.4 g/dL, and 4.00 (95% CI, 3.18-5.04) for less than 7 .0 g/dL. Furthermore, the risk of death was significantly higher when nadir hemoglobin was below 7.0 g/dL than when it was 9.0 to 9.9 g/dL (RR, 5.36; 95% CI, 2.20-16.12).


Compared with the risks when nadir hemoglobin is 9.0 to 9.9 g/dL, the risk of composite adverse events increases when postoperative nadir hemoglobin is below 9.0 g/dL, whereas risk of death increases when nadir hemoglobin is below 7.0 g/dL.