Cell Saver (Blood Salvage)

What is it?

Intraoperative cell salvage is a device used in surgery. It is a different choice other than getting blood transfusions from someone else. It collects the blood you lose during your surgery, cleans the blood and returns the blood back to you. Up to 80 per cent of the red blood cells you lose during your surgery can be returned to you.

How is it done?

During your operation, a cell salvage device is set up in the operating room. As your surgery progresses, the blood that you lose is collected using suction. Instead of throwing the blood away (as is done when cell salvage is not used), the blood is saved, the cells are cleaned and the broken cells are removed. This blood is then collected into a bag and given back to you through a tube that goes directly into your blood.

What are the benefits?

The benefit of intraoperative cell salvage is that it will decrease the risk of having to get a red blood cell transfusion donated by someone else.

What are the risks or side effects?

Two risks of intraoperative cell salvage are that red blood cells may break down or you may develop a problem with how your blood clotsis another means of giving the patient’s own blood back to them at the time of surgery. In this process, blood that is lost by the patient during surgery is collected, filtered and returned to the patient.

Up to 80 per cent of blood lost can be recovered. This procedure is not appropriate for everyone. For example, patients undergoing surgery for cancer may not be able to undergo this procedure.

Intraoperative cell salvage also has some specific risks to the patient associated with it. If you wish to consider intraoperative cell salvage, it is very important to discuss this therapy with your surgeon. It is important to discuss your feelings about blood transfusion with your surgeon and your family doctor.