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More than 81 million red blood cell units are collected annually throughout the world.1 Yet the indications for transfusion in most settings are unknown. Clinical trials in surgical patients have generally compared transfusion strategies at two haemoglobin concentrations and have not evaluated intraoperative transfusions. Thus, this analysis is unique.
A retrospective cohort study was performed in about 240 000 patients of 65 years of age and older who underwent non-cardiac surgery. Intraoperative blood loss was estimated from the preoperative haematocrit, lowest postoperative haematocrit and amount of blood transfused intraoperatively. A priori, preoperative haematocrit was categorised into four levels: <24%, 24–29.9%, 30–35.9% and ≥36%, and estimated blood loss was stratified into <500, 500–999 and ≥1000 cc. A propensity score was developed to predict each patient's probability of receiving an intraoperative transfusion. Patients …
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