Optimizing Perioperative Red Blood Cell Utilization and Wastage in Pediatric Craniofacial Surgery

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



The Journal of craniofacial surgery








Utilization, wastage, and adverse consequences of assigning one full red blood cell (RBC) unit were investigated for children undergoing craniosynostosis surgery. The authors hypothesized that significant RBC wastage in the perioperative period exists for pediatric craniofacial surgery. The authors sought to determine what factors could guide patient-specific blood product preparation by evaluating utilization and wastage of RBCs in pediatric patients undergoing surgical correction of craniosynostosis. Eighty-five children with craniosynostosis undergoing surgical correction at our institution between July 2013 and June 2015 were identified. Fifty-three patients received RBC transfusion in the perioperative period, while 32 patients were not transfused. Primary outcome measures were intraoperative, postoperative, and total percent of RBC wastage. Secondary analysis compared the impact of patient weight and procedure type on perioperative RBC wastage. Of the 53 patients who received perioperative RBC transfusion, 35 patients received a volume of blood less than the full volume of the RBC unit while 18 patients received the full volume of blood. There was no significant relationship between perioperative RBC wastage, the type of craniofacial procedure performed, or the duration of surgical time. Children who received a perioperative transfusion and had RBC wastage weighed significantly less than those who received a full volume. These findings suggest that for craniofacial surgical patients weighing less than 10 kg, a protocol that splits cross-matched RBC units can decrease perioperative RBC wastage and blood donor exposure. A future prospective study will determine the success of this intervention as well as the potential to decrease exposure to multiple blood donors.