In spite of using heparin-coated extracorporeal circuits, cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) is still associated with an extensive thrombin generation, which is only partially suppressed by the use of high dosages of heparin. Recent studies have focused on the origins of this thrombotic stimulus and the possible role of retransfused suctioned blood from the thoracic cavities on the activation of the extrinsic coagulation pathway. The present study was designed to find during CPB an association between retransfusion of suctioned blood from the pericardium and pleural space, containing activated factor VIIa and systemic thrombin generation.
Blood samples taken from 12 consenting patients who had elective cardiac surgery were assayed for plasma factor VIIa, prothrombin fragment 1+2 (F1+2), and thrombin-antithrombin (TAT) concentrations. Blood aspirated from the pericardium and pleural space was collected separately, assayed for F1+2, TAT, and factor VIIa and retransfused to the patient after the aorta occlusion.
After systemic heparinization and during CPB thrombin generation was minimal, as indicated by the lower than base line plasma levels of F1+2, and TAT after correction for hemodilution. In contrast, blood aspirated from the thoracic cavities had significantly higher levels of factor VIIa, F1+2, and TAT compared to the simultaneous samples from the blood circulation (P < 0.05). Furthermore, after retransfusion of the suctioned blood (range, 200–1600 mL) circulating levels of F1+2, and TAT rose significantly from 1.6 to 2.9 nmol/L (P = 0.002) and from 5.1 to 37.5 μg/L (P = 0.01), respectively. The increase in both F1+2, and TAT levels correlated significantly with the amount of retransfused suctioned blood (r = 0.68, P = 0.021 and r = 0.90, P = 0.001, respectively). However, the circulating factor VIIa levels did not correlate with TAT and F1+2 levels.
These data suggest that blood aspirated from the thoracic cavities during CPB is highly thrombogenic. Retransfusion of this blood may, therefore, promote further systemic thrombin generation during CPB.