During surgery your physician may use some of the following techniques to help conserve your blood and avoid transfusion if you accept them (this list is not all inclusive of techniques).
- Cell Salvage or cell recovery: Also known as cell saver. The blood lost during surgery is collected and given back to you after it is appropriately processed using a continuous circuit with your body.
- Platelet Gel: Platelets are processed to form a gel that is applied over your wound to help control superficial bleeding and promote healing.
- Tourniquets: May be placed above the surgical site to restrict blood loss during your procedure.
- Meticulous Surgical Techniques: Uses surgical instruments that prevent or minimize blood loss.
- Electro Cautery: Uses heat (cautery) to stop vessels from bleeding
- Volume Expanders: Intravenous fluids made with salts, water, sugars or starches that help to maintain the correct amount of fluid in your blood vessels.
Geisinger Health System does not perform autologous blood donation, that is donating your own blood for surgery. Patients who donate their own blood before surgery have lower blood levels at the time of surgery, and therefore, have a greater chance of needing transfusions during and after surgery.
The blood conservation team will continue to follow your progress and check your hemoglobin and iron levels. Your blood being drawn will be limited to minimal amounts so to decrease excessive blood loss. Your blood will be built back up using blood conservation techniques. The blood conservation coordinator will instruct you what you need to do when you get home to continue improving your blood count and healing process.
When you return to see your physician for post surgery follow up, it is important that you have your blood checked to assure it is returning to normal levels. Your blood conservation team will follow you for 1-2 months and continue with treatment recommendations. If your counts remain low and is not responding to the medications and nutrition guidance you were instructed to follow at home, your physician may ask that you see a hematologist (physician who specializes in blood) to help build up your blood.
If you come to Geisinger Health System and are not having surgery, your physician may ask a blood conservation coordinator to help with your care. Blood conservation applies the same principles as previously discussed.
The blood conservation coordinator may be asked to consult for the treatment of anemia. The goal is to optimize your blood count so to minimize the need for transfusion, resulting in improved patient outcomes and improved quality of life.