Aprotinin: An Update of its Pharmacology and Therapeutic Use in Open Heart Surgery and Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery

Peters, D.C.; Noble, S.
February 1999
Drugs;Feb1999, Vol. 57 Issue 2, p233
Academic Journal
Cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) is associated with defective haemostasis which results in bleeding and the requirement for allogenic blood product transfusions in many patients undergoing open heart surgery (OHS) and/or coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) with CPB. Conservation of blood has become a priority during surgery because of shortages of donor blood, the risks associated with the use of allogenic blood products and the costs of these products. Aprotinin is a serine protease inhibitor isolated from bovine lung tissue which acts in a number of interrelated ways to provide an antifibrinolytic effect, inhibit contact activation, reduce platelet dysfunction and attenuate the inflammatory response to CPB. It is used to reduce blood loss and transfusion requirements in patients with a risk of haemorrhage and has clear advantages over placebo or no treatment. High dose aprotinin significantly reduces postoperative blood loss compared with aminocaproic acid and desmopressin, and decreases transfusion requirements compared with desmopressin. Results are less consistent with tranexamic acid: high dose aprotinin either reduces blood loss significantly more than, or to an equivalent level to, tranexamic acid. A variety of other lower aprotinin dosage regimens consistently result in similar reductions in blood loss to aminocaproic acid or tranexamic acid. Data from clinical trials indicate that aprotinin is generally well tolerated, and the adverse events seen are those expected in patients undergoing OHS and/or CABG with CPB. Hypersensitivity reactions occur in <0.1 to 0.6% of patients receiving aprotinin for the first time. The results of original reports indicating that aprotinin therapy may increase myocardial infarction rates or mortality have not been supported by more recent studies specifically designed to investigate this outcome. However, a tendency to early vein graft occlusion with aprotinin has been shown and care with anticoagulation and vessel grafts is required. No comparative tolerability data between aprotinin and the lysine analogues, aminocaproic acid and tranexamic acid, are available. Conclusion: Comparative tolerability and cost-effectiveness data for aprotinin and the lysine analogues are required to more fully assess their individual roles in reducing blood loss and transfusion requirements in patients undergoing CPB during OHS and/or CABG. However, clinical evidence to date supports the use of aprotinin over its competitors in patients at high risk of haemorrhage, in those for whom transfusion is unavailable or in patients who refuse allogenic transfusions.



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