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What Is Bloodless Surgery?


Updated March 20, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Bloodless Surgery, Surgery Without Blood, Blood, Blood image,

Blood For Testing

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Question: What Is Bloodless Surgery?
I keep hearing the term "bloodless surgery". My religion does not forbid me from receiving blood, so why should I consider having bloodless surgery?
Answer: Bloodless surgery, also known as blood conservation, is the medical or surgical treatment of a patient without using blood products. A variety of techniques, including autologous blood transfusion (banking your own blood), minimizing blood draws, medications, fluids and hyperbaric chambers can be used as needed to eliminate the need for blood.

Some patients choose bloodless surgery because their religion forbids blood transfusions, but bloodless surgery is attractive for many reasons. Some patients choose the bloodless approach simply because they want to minimize the risk of infectious disease from donor blood. While the risk of contracting an illness from donor blood is extremely low, it is possible to have a reaction to the transfusion of donor blood. For someone who has had a reaction to a blood transfusion in the past, the transfusion-free approach may be especially beneficial.

It is also important to remember that blood is a precious resource. The need for blood is constant and one critically ill patient can deplete the blood donated by 40 or individuals, so conserving blood is beneficial for the entire community.

A bloodless surgery may certainly be more challenging than a typical surgery, but for some patients even major procedures can be completed without the administration of blood. In fact, major procedures including heart surgery and liver transplants have been safely performed without donated blood.


Your Guide to Blood Conservation Options. Pamphlet. Distributed by Ohio Health. August 2010.

The Center For Blood Conservation at Grant. Informational Handout. Accessed August 2010.

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