Bloodless Medicine and Surgery Techniques

The term "bloodless medicine and surgery" is not meant to suggest that patients who have surgery performed by a "bloodless" physician will not experience blood loss during surgery. Rather, the service involves a philosophical and practical way of providing medical care that minimizes or eliminates the use of donor blood. The physicians involved may do that by utilizing a wide variety of techniques in order to minimize a patient's blood loss before, during and after treatment.

Bloodless medicine techniques were originally developed in response to the requests of patients who could not receive blood products for religious reasons. At that time, the established medical community considered the practice of bloodless medicine controversial. However, as the AIDS and hepatitis epidemics of the mid-80s called into question the safety of the nation's blood supply and more people began demanding alternatives, more advanced techniques became available for treatment.

Thanks to these advances, many types of surgery have now been performed without the use of blood products, from simple outpatient procedures to organ transplants.

Types of Techniques

Some techniques may not be available at Temecula Valley Hospital at this time. Please speak with your physician before planning a surgery. Some of the specialized techniques and equipment now available include:

  • Synthetic erythropoietin – a hormone used prior to surgery which stimulates the patient's bone marrow to produce more red blood cells. This has the effect of boosting the patient's hemoglobin level before surgery.
  • Micro sampling – drawing very small amounts of blood for testing, rather than the larger quantities routinely drawn.
  • Volume expanders – fluids administered intravenously to dilute the blood. The diluted blood contains a lower concentration of red blood cells, thus the amount of red blood cells lost is reduced.
  • Cell saver system – used during surgery to collect, recirculate and re-administer the patient's own blood, which would otherwise have been lost.
  • Intraoperative hypotension anesthesia – used during surgery to lower blood pressure, in order to minimize bleeding.
  • Electrocautery – uses electrocoagulation to stop vessels from bleeding during surgery.
  • Harmonic scalpel – uses ultrasonic energy to cut and coagulate simultaneously.
  • Skin monitor – used during surgery to track oxygen levels in the skin.
  • Electrosurgical coagulator – a sophisticated tool that limits internal bleeding by clotting the patient's blood during surgery.

A Team Approach

No one ever plans to have an accident or become seriously ill. However, it can happen to anyone, at any time. If you have concerns regarding the risks of donated blood and blood products, simply choosing a primary care physician who will respect your wishes may not be sufficient. A serious illness or a hospitalization requiring surgery will require a team approach from your caregivers. Therefore, you should be certain that your primary care physician is affiliated with a hospital that can provide a multi-specialty physician panel experienced in bloodless medicine.

Bloodless Medicine and Surgery Program

For additional information, please contact the Bloodless Medicine and Surgery program at 951-331-2269.