What Is Cell Saver?

As a cardiothoracic anesthesiologist, hemostasis, coagulopathy, and blood salvation are important considerations in the operations I’m involved with. Cell Saver is one technique our perfusion team routinely utilizes to facilitate blood conservation. Blood loss on the surgical field is collected, run through a filter, washed, and returned to the patient via the cardiopulmonary bypass circuit or in a blood bag for the anesthesia team to transfuse.

One unit of Cell Saver blood is roughly 225 cc with a hematocrit of ~55%. This is a form of autologous (the patient’s own) blood transfusion which doesn’t require cross-matching; however, only red blood cells are salvaged with this technique. If many units of Cell Saver are transfused without appropriately replacing platelets and clotting factors, one can create a dilutional coagulopathy.

Blood gas run from a Cell Saver sample
Collected wash solution

Drop me a comment below with your experience regarding Cell Saver and other blood salvation techniques!

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  1. Hi. Tha question is difficult and more comlex and the devil is in details, as always. It has been proven that cell saver is cost effective only if used routinely. 10 years in academic cardiac surgery without one led me to implement a protocol for almost routine autologous normovolemic hemodilution (actually being hypovolemic). Very nice technique, saving the platelets, extremely nice coagulation when retransfused after the CPU. Now, after a year in a unit using routine cell saver – at first I felt that my work on ANH had been almost useless. However, one must take into account the priming and cardioplegia issue. In the first suite, the priming was high volume and the cardioplegia crystalline. In the second – low priming and bloody cardioplegia. One must not think of a single device without taking into account other issues.


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