The endothelial function in cardiac surgery

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Cardiac operations with cardiopulmonary bypass exerts many different actions which modify the natural function of endothelial cells. The main determinant is the activation of the coagulation system both through the intrinsic and extrinsic pathways, leading to an overwhelming thrombin formation. To counteract the coagulant effects of thrombin, heparin is used in large doses. As a result, the endothelium is asked to promote all its anticoagulant properties, basically through the AT release from the suface, the tissue factor pathway inhibitor release, and the activation of the protein C - protein S system. At the end of cardiac operations, all these systems are depleted, and low levels of antithrombin, tissue factor pathway inhibitor, protein C are available for further anticoagulant effects. There is the evidence that levels of antithrombin activity below 50% at the end of cardiac operations with cardiopulmonary bypass are associated to bad outcomes in terms of surgical revision rate, thromboembolic events, and neurological events. Exogenous antithrombin administration has a well defined action in limiting thrombin formation during cardiac operations; however, we are still lacking an evidence-based information about the clinical impact of this and others possible preventive strategies based on exogenous administration of antithrombin before or during cardiac operations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-506
Number of pages4
JournalMinerva Anestesiologica
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006


  • Cardiopulmonary bypass
  • Coagulation
  • Endothelium, vascular

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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