Bleeding is a serious complication of coronary artery bypass grafting that often leads to blood transfusion. Approximately 50% of patients who have the surgery receive blood products, and blood transfusions play a role in adverse outcomes after the surgery.


To examine the association between perioperative blood transfusion and postoperative adverse outcomes in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting.


A systematic review of the literature, via the matrix method of quality evaluation, was conducted. PubMed, CINAHL, and Science Direct databases for 2000 through 2016 were searched. Inclusion criteria were articles published in English and original research related to clinical outcomes of blood transfusion after coronary artery bypass grafting. Seventeen articles were included in the review.


Mortality, both short- and long-term, was significantly higher in transfusion patients than in nontransfusion patients. Patients with transfusion of red blood cells had higher resource utilization and more complications, including infection, pneumonia, renal failure, graft occlusion, and atrial fibrillation, than did nontransfusion patients.


An association exists between red blood cell transfusions and adverse clinical outcomes for patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting. Transfusion of red blood cells is sometimes unnecessary, may be injurious, and should be used cautiously. Even a single-unit increase in perioperative red blood cell transfusions can have a significant adverse impact on outcomes. Individual benefits and risks should be weighed before transfusion to avoid adverse outcomes. Transfusion guidelines should be reviewed to include the latest evidence to guarantee the most appropriate use of blood products.

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