(Surgery, Bloodless; Bloodless Medicine; Medicine, Bloodless)
Bloodless surgery is done without the use of donor blood. Bloodless surgery may include:
- Save and reinfuse the patient’s own blood
- Medicine that will boost the body's ability to make blood
- Surgery options that have as little blood loss as possible
- Medicine that improves clots and slows or stops bleeding
Reasons for Procedure
Blood can be lost during surgery. It is often replaced with blood from a donor. Some may not want to receive donated blood. Reasons may include:
- Concerns about blood-borne diseases, such as HIV or hepatitis
- Complications from a previous blood transfusion
- Religious beliefs
Bloodless surgery is an option for those who do not want or cannot have a donor blood transfusion.
Bloodless surgery may also lead to:
- Quicker recovery time
- Shorter hospital stay
- Faster wound healing
- Fewer blood transfusion complications
Your doctor will review problems that can occur with bloodless surgery. Complications from bloodless surgery may include a bad reaction to medicine or fluids that are needed.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor will:
- Do a physical exam
- Order tests
- Give you instructions to prepare for surgery
If your blood will be needed, it will be collected before the surgery. You may be given treatments to help replace the blood. This may include fluids and the following:
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Your doctor may give you medicine to help your body make more blood. You may also asked to stop taking certain medicine, herbs, or supplements. Let your doctor know what you are taking.
Extra oxygen will be given before surgery. This will make sure your body keeps high levels of oxygen even if you lose some blood.
You may be placed in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. This chamber helps to pump extra oxygen into your body.
The type of anesthesia will depend on your surgery.
Description of the Procedure
What will happen will depend on the type of surgery you will be having.
To further minimize blood loss, the doctor will:
- Use special surgery tools or techniques to control bleeding.
- A cell saver machine may be used. This machine will suction, wash, and filter your blood during surgery. This will let the blood be reused if needed.
Immediately After Procedure
The blood that was collected from you may be reinfused. You may also be given special fluids. A hyperbaric oxygen chamber may be needed if oxygen levels are low.
How Long Will It Take?
Depends on the type of surgery you have.
How Much Will It Hurt?
Bloodless process does not cause pain.
Average Hospital Stay
How long you will stay in the hospital depends on the type of surgery.
At the Hospital
You will be taken to your recovery room where the care team will monitor you. They will watch your oxygen levels.
Call Your Doctor
It is important for you to monitor your recovery after you leave the hospital. Alert your doctor to any problems right away. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
- Lightheadedness or weakness
- New or unexpected symptoms
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Allen J, Berrios L, Solimine M, Knott-Craig C. Bloodless Surgery in a Pediatric Jehovah’s Witness. J Extra Corpor Technol. 2013 Dec; 45(4): 251-253.
Bloodless Surgery Center. Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt website. Available at: http://www.slrctsurgery.com/bloodless.html. Accessed December 28, 2019.
Center for Bloodless Medicine & Surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital. Penn Medicine website. Available at: https://www.pennmedicine.org/for-patients-and-visitors/find-a-program-or-service/bloodless-medicine. Accessed December 28, 2019.
Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy process and applications. Englewood Hospital Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.englewoodhospital.com/pdf/HBOProcessandApplications.pdf. Accessed December 28, 2019.
Mizuno J, Ozawa Y, Arita H, Hanaoka K. Anesthetic management of a Jehovah's Witness for pancreaticoduodenectomy. Masui. 2011;60(3):383-386.
Shander A, Javidroozi M, Perelman S, Puzio T, Lobel G. From bloodless surgery to patient blood management. Mt Sinai J Med. 2012;79(1):56.
Last reviewed June 2019 by Donald Buck, MD Last Updated: 9/16/2020