Surgical patients present unique opportunities for reducing allogeneic transfusions via perioperative blood salvage. Intraoperative cell saver techniques enable the collection of autologous blood from the surgical field and cardiopulmonary bypass circuit for return to the patient. Washing and hemoconcentration creates a product with an average hematocrit of 50% that carries normal erythrocyte survival, with minimal coagulation factors or platelets. Postoperative autotransfusion of shed blood from chest tubes or surgical drains enables additional blood conservation, reducing allogeneic transfusions by as much as 50%. Both intermittent and continuous autotransfusion systems using standard chest drainage equipment are available that require minimal setup and maintenance at the bedside. The hematocrit of shed blood is 20–25%, with depletion of clotting factors and platelet function. Potential advantages of perioperative blood salvage include the ready availability of large volumes of patient-compatible blood, with optimal oxygen-carrying capacity, that is virtually free from the risk of viral contamination. Specific indications, contraindications, and techniques for the salvage and administration of these vital products are presented

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