Bloodless Medicine and Surgery Program
"Bloodless" means medical or surgical treatment without the use of banked (stored), allogeneic blood or major blood components. Blood loss often occurs during surgery. A bloodless program endeavors to minimize blood loss through special blood conservation methods. The term "bloodless medicine and surgery" does not mean that patients who have surgery performed by a bloodless physician will not experience blood loss. Rather, the service involves a philosophical and practical way of providing medical care that minimizes or eliminates the use of donor blood. The physicians involved may do that by using a wide variety of techniques to minimize a patient's blood loss before, during and after treatment.
Bloodless medicine techniques originally were developed in response to the requests of Jehovah Witness patients, who could not receive blood products for religious reasons. At that time the established medical community considered the practice of bloodless medicine controversial. However, as the AIDS and hepatitis epidemics of the mid-1980s called into question the safety of the nation's blood supply and more people began demanding alternatives, more advanced techniques became available for treatment.
Thanks to these advances, many types of surgery now can be performed without the use of blood products, from simple outpatient procedures to organ transplants.
The Inland Empire is home to an estimated 60,000 Jehovah Witnesses. Corona Regional Medical Center is the largest provider of bloodless medicine in the Inland Empire.
Some of the specialized techniques and equipment now available include:
- Synthetic erythropoietin — a hormone used before surgery to stimulate the patient's bone marrow to produce more red blood cells. This boosts the patient's hemoglobin level before surgery
- Micro sampling — drawing very small amounts of blood for testing, rather than the larger quantities routinely drawn.
- Volume expanders — fluids administered intravenously to dilute the blood. The diluted blood contains a lower concentration of red blood cells, which reduces the amount of red blood cells lost.
- Cell saver system — used during surgery to collect, recirculate and readminister the patient's own blood, which otherwise would have been lost.
- Intraoperative hypotension anesthesia — used during surgery to lower blood pressure and minimize bleeding.
- Electrocautery — uses electrocoagulation to stop vessels from bleeding during surgery.
- Harmonic scalpel — uses ultrasonic energy to cut and coagulate simultaneously.
- Skin monitor — used during surgery to track oxygen levels in the skin.
- Electrosurgical coagulator — a sophisticated tool that limits internal bleeding by clotting the patient's blood during surgery.
A Team Approach
If you have concerns regarding the risks of donated blood and blood products, simply choosing a primary care physician who will respect your wishes may not be sufficient. A serious illness or a hospitalization requiring surgery will require a team approach from your caregivers. Therefore, you should be certain that your primary care physician is affiliated with a hospital that can provide a multi-specialty physician panel experienced in bloodless medicine.
We can help you choose a doctor affiliated with a panel of specialists who are equally committed to your choice of bloodless medicine. If you are enrolled in an HMO, we can help you choose a physician who belongs to a medical group affiliated with Corona Regional Medical Center.