Questions to Ask About Blood Transfusion and Heart Surgery

Conventional wisdom may lead you to believe you’ll fare better (during surgery) if you get a transfusion, but that’s not always the case, said Colleen Koch, MD, vice chair for research and education in cardiothoracic anesthesiology at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. In fact, heart surgery patients who receive blood transfusions tend not to do as well as those who don’t receive them, Dr. Koch noted.

During a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, for example, a patient at one hospital might be given two units of blood, while doctors at another center may decide not to give a similar patient a blood transfusion.

Before you head to the operating room, it’s smart to ask your medical team about the likelihood of needing a blood transfusion and whether it can be avoided.

Read the rest of Questions to Ask About Blood Transfusion and Heart Surgery to see questions to ask prior to surgery.