With Orthopedic Surgeon Adam Bright, MD
Welcome to “Ask an Expert,” a Q&A series with Sarasota Memorial’s team of doctors, nurses and other health experts, where you can get thorough answers to your health and wellness queries from a local source you can trust. Have a question that you’d like to “Ask an Expert”? Email it to AskAnExpert@smh.com.
Recently, there’s been growing interest around the use of bloodless surgical techniques. To learn more about transfusion-free surgery and options for local patients, Healthe-Matters editors talked with Dr. Adam Bright, a Sarasota Memorial orthopedic surgeon who chairs the hospital’s Bloodless Surgery Committee and is a volunteer specialty physician with the SMH Community Specialty Clinic.
Q: What is “bloodless surgery”?
A: Bloodless surgery uses the latest techniques to reduce blood loss and avoid blood transfusion during a surgical procedure. The term “bloodless surgery” — sometimes called “no blood surgery” — simply means that no blood transfusion will be used, unless specifically consented by the patient.
Bloodless surgery does not mean that there will not be any blood loss, but there will be far less than during a traditional surgery, so transfusion is not necessary. Because of this, the patient’s health must be optimized before surgery; this might involve him/her taking iron supplements and vitamins, losing weight, exercising or stopping smoking. During the surgery, patients may be given fluids to dilute their blood, as well as spinal anesthesia and local anesthetic; the care team also may use a bipolar sealer device and other products to avoid blood loss. After surgery, fluid hydration and ice packs to the surgical site are used, and blood draws/testing are minimized.
Q: Why do patients choose bloodless surgery?
A: Patients choose bloodless surgery for many reasons. For some, it is due to religious beliefs, most commonly Jehovah’s Witnesses. Others pursue transfusion-free surgery for its advantages over traditional surgery. Without a transfusion, patients have less risk of infection or risk of contracting a bloodborne disease like Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Hepatitis C (HCV). A patient’s care team, including the surgeon and other physicians, can help assess an individual’s risk and determine whether bloodless surgery is possible.
Q: Should I consider transfusion-free surgery, if it’s not part of my religious beliefs?
A: Yes. The benefits of bloodless surgery can improve surgical outcomes and minimize the risk of complications for any patient having surgery.
Q: What surgeries are commonly performed using transfusion-free techniques?
A: Thanks to evolving technology, many surgeries can be performed without transfusions, but not all hospitals or surgical centers offer bloodless surgery options.
At Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH), we offer a growing number of surgical procedures using bloodless techniques. These include some orthopedic surgeries (total hip replacement, total knee replacement, arthroscopic knee and shoulder surgery), thoracic surgeries (lung cancer and thoracic cancer), cardiology surgeries (stents, pacemakers and more), general surgeries (hernia repair), vascular surgeries (stents and bypass) and gynecologic surgeries (hysteroscopy, hysterectomy, pelvic floor repair and urogenital surgery).
Because many patients in our community prefer bloodless surgery — and it’s Sarasota Memorial’s mission to provide the best medical care possible to all of our patients — the hospital has worked to grow its Bloodless Surgery Program in recent years. Supporting initiatives have included purchasing special equipment for bloodless surgery (a cell saver device and Aquamantys bipolar sealer); and establishing new protocols for pre-admission and pre-testing, as well as protocols to prevent patients from receiving blood transfusions when they do not consent to it.
To learn more about your bloodless surgery options or for help choosing a surgeon who offers transfusion-free procedures, click here or call 941-917-7777.