Background: Red blood cell transfusions (RBCT) carry risk of transfusion-related immunodulation that may impact postoperative recovery. This study examined the association between perioperative RBCT and short-term postoperative outcomes following gastrectomy for gastric cancer. Methods: Using the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database, we compared outcomes of patients (transfused v. nontransfused) undergoing elective gastrectomy for gastric cancer (2007-2012). Outcomes were 30-day major morbidity, mortality and length of stay. The association between perioperative RBCT and outcomes was estimated using modified Poisson, logistic, or negative binomial regression. Results: Of the 3243 patients in the entire cohort, we included 2884 patients with nonmissing data, of whom 535 (18.6%) received RBCT. Overall 30-day major morbidity and mortality were 20% and 3.5%, respectively. After adjustment for baseline and clinical characteristics, RBCT was independently associated with increased 30-day mortality (relative risk [RR] 3.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.9-5.0), major morbidity (RR 1.4, 95% CI 1.2-1.8), length of stay (RR 1.2, 95% CI 1.1-1.2), infections (RR 1.4, 95% CI 1.1-1.6), cardiac complications (RR 1.8, 95% CI 1.0-3.2) and respiratory failure (RR 2.3, 95% CI 1.6-3.3). Conclusion: Red blood cell transfusions are associated with worse postoperative short-term outcomes in patients with gastric cancer. Blood management strategies are needed to reduce the use of RBCT after gastrectomy for gastric cancer.
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