Selling the Role of Salvage: Cell Salvage Past and Present

J Perioper Pract. 2020 Jul 8. Online ahead of print

Despite the body of evidence to support the use of salvaged blood for transfusion, hesitation around its use still persists, with staff apprehension around set up of cell salvage equipment and general underestimation of intraoperative blood loss being key factors in its underuse.

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The use of transfused blood, be it from an allogenic (donor) or autologous (same patient) source, is not a new treatment and in fact has been experimented with since the mid 1800s. The role of cell salvage and re-infusion of a patient’s own blood, however, has only begun to gain real popularity in the last 20 years, after the undertaking of several large scale meta-analyses which have shown that not only is autologous transfusion no less efficacious when compared to allogenic transfusion, but also potentially safer for a number of reasons. Autologous transfusion is also more cost effective overall and potentially quicker to initiate in an emergency situation. Despite the body of evidence to support the use of salvaged blood for transfusion, hesitation around its use still persists, with staff apprehension around set up of cell salvage equipment and general underestimation of intraoperative blood loss being key factors in its underuse.