(HealthDay News) – A single high dose of human recombinant erythropoietin (HRE) administered two days before cardiac surgery is associated with reduced need for transfused blood, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, held from May 4–8 in Minneapolis.

Luca Weltert, MD, from the European Hospital in Rome, and colleagues conducted a randomized prospective study involving approximately 600 patients undergoing cardiac operations. Patients in the HRE group received a receptor-saturating dose of 80,000 international units administered in a bolus two days before surgery.

The researchers found that patients in the HRE group needed significantly less blood than controls (0.39 vs. 1.12 blood units per patient; risk ratio, 0.338). On postoperative day four, the mean hemoglobin level in the HRE group was 10.21 ± 0.68g/dL, which was significantly higher than the 9.02 ± 0.92g/dL in the control group. There was no significant difference in the rate of major non-fatal adverse events (4.1% and 4.7% for the HRE and control group, respectively) or in the rate of death (2.92% and 3.42%, respectively).

“HRE therapy remains a viable, yet underused option, a milestone in the ‘bloodless story,'” Weltert said in a statement. “In the past its role was predominantly in association with preoperative autologous blood donation, while in the present its role has to be focused on the management of perioperative anemia.”

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