Describe postoperative blood salvage.
Currently, postoperative blood salvage systems are simple, inexpensive, and have been shown to be highly effective in decreasing patient requirements for homologous blood products. The systems consist of a container that is attached to drains placed in a surgical wound. Blood collected in this manner is defibrinogenated and will not clot, even in the absence of anticoagulant. When enough blood has been collected, the containers are hung, and the blood passes through a filter to a conventional blood administration set. Though the returned blood is high in fibrin-degradation products, its use seems to be safe and is not associated with development of disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC). Recently, however, machines have been introduced that, like intraoperative salvage devices, wash the blood before returning it to the patient. Postoperative blood salvage systems have been used most commonly in cardiac and major orthopedic surgery.