Desmopressin reduces transfusion needs after surgery: A meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials

Giuseppe Crescenzi, Giovanni Landoni, Giuseppe Biondi-Zoccai, Federico Pappalardo, Massimiliano Nuzzi, Elena Bignami, Oliviero Fochi, Giulia Maj, Maria Grazia Calabrò, Marco Ranucci, Alberto Zangrillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND:: Perioperative pathologic microvascular bleeding is associated with increased morbidity and mortality and could be reduced by hemostatic drugs. At the same time, safety concerns regarding existing hemostatic agents include excess mortality. Numerous trials investigating desmopressin have lacked power to detect a beneficial effect on transfusion of blood products. The authors performed a meta-analysis of 38 randomized, placebo-controlled trials (2,488 patients) investigating desmopressin in surgery and indicating at least perioperative blood loss or transfusion of blood products. METHODS:: Pertinent studies were searched in BioMed Central, CENTRAL, and PubMed (updated May 1, 2008). Further hand or computerized searches involved recent (2003-2008) conference proceedings. RESULTS:: In most of the included studies, 0.3 μg/kg desmopressin was used prophylactically over a 15- to 30-min period. In comparison with placebo, desmopressin was associated with reduced requirements of blood product transfusion (standardized mean difference = -0.29 [-0.52 to -0.06] units per patient; P = 0.01), which were more pronounced in the subgroup of noncardiac surgery and were without a statistically significant increase in thromboembolic adverse events (57/1,002 = 5.7% in the desmopressin group vs. 45/979 = 4.6% in the placebo group; P = 0.3). CONCLUSIONS:: Desmopressin slightly reduced blood loss (almost 80 ml per patient) and transfusion requirements (almost 0.3 units per patient) in surgical patients, without reduction in the proportion of patients who received transfusions. This meta-analysis suggests the importance of further large, randomized controlled studies using desmopressin in patients with or at risk of perioperative pathologic microvascular bleeding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1063-1076
Number of pages14
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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