Blood transfusion is administered during many types of surgery, but its efficacy and safety are increasingly questioned. Evaluation of the efficacy of agents, such as desmopressin (DDAVP; 1-deamino-8-D-arginine-vasopressin), that may reduce perioperative blood loss is needed.
To examine the evidence for the efficacy of DDAVP in reducing perioperative blood loss and the need for red cell transfusion in people who do not have inherited bleeding disorders.
We searched for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (2017, issue 3) in the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE (from 1946), Embase (from 1974), the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) (from 1937), the Transfusion Evidence Library (from 1980), and ongoing trial databases (all searches to 3 April 2017).
We included randomised controlled trials comparing DDAVP to placebo or an active comparator (e.g. tranexamic acid, aprotinin) before, during, or immediately after surgery or after invasive procedures in adults or children.
We used the standard methodological procedures expected by Cochrane.
We identified 65 completed trials (3874 participants) and four ongoing trials. Of the 65 completed trials, 39 focused on adult cardiac surgery, three on paediatric cardiac surgery, 12 on orthopaedic surgery, two on plastic surgery, and two on vascular surgery; seven studies were conducted in surgery for other conditions. These trials were conducted between 1986 and 2016, and 11 were funded by pharmaceutical companies or by a party with a commercial interest in the outcome of the trial.The GRADE quality of evidence was very low to moderate across all outcomes. No trial reported quality of life. DDAVP versus placebo or no treatmentTrial results showed considerable heterogeneity between surgical settings for total volume of red cells transfused (low-quality evidence) and for total blood loss (very low-quality evidence) due to large differences in baseline blood loss. Consequently, these outcomes were not pooled and were reported in subgroups.Compared with placebo, DDAVP may slightly decrease the total volume of red cells transfused in adult cardiac surgery (mean difference (MD) -0.52 units, 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.96 to -0.08 units; 14 trials, 957 participants), but may lead to little or no difference in orthopaedic surgery (MD -0.02, 95% CI -0.67 to 0.64 units; 6 trials, 303 participants), vascular surgery (MD 0.06, 95% CI -0.60 to 0.73 units; 2 trials, 135 participants), or hepatic surgery (MD -0.47, 95% CI -1.27 to 0.33 units; 1 trial, 59 participants).DDAVP probably leads to little or no difference in the total number of participants transfused with blood (risk ratio (RR) 0.96, 95% CI 0.86 to 1.06; 25 trials; 1806 participants) (moderate-quality evidence).Whether DDAVP decreases total blood loss in adult cardiac surgery (MD -135.24 mL, 95% CI -210.80 mL to -59.68 mL; 22 trials, 1358 participants), orthopaedic surgery (MD -285.76 mL, 95% CI -514.99 mL to -56.53 mL; 5 trials, 241 participants), or vascular surgery (MD -582.00 mL, 95% CI -1264.07 mL to 100.07 mL; 1 trial, 44 participants) is uncertain because the quality of evidence is very low.DDAVP probably leads to little or no difference in all-cause mortality (Peto odds ratio (pOR) 1.09, 95% CI 0.51 to 2.34; 22 trials, 1631 participants) or in thrombotic events (pOR 1.36, 95% CI, 0.85 to 2.16; 29 trials, 1984 participants) (both low-quality evidence). DDAVP versus placebo or no treatment for people with platelet dysfunctionCompared with placebo, DDAVP may lead to a reduction in the total volume of red cells transfused (MD -0.65 units, 95% CI -1.16 to -0.13 units; 6 trials, 388 participants) (low-quality evidence) and in total blood loss (MD -253.93 mL, 95% CI -408.01 mL to -99.85 mL; 7 trials, 422 participants) (low-quality evidence).DDAVP probably leads to little or no difference in the total number of participants receiving a red cell transfusion (RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.66 to 1.04; 5 trials, 258 participants) (moderate-quality evidence).Whether DDAVP leads to a difference in all-cause mortality (pOR 0.72, 95% CI 0.12 to 4.22; 7 trials; 422 participants) or in thrombotic events (pOR 1.58, 95% CI 0.60 to 4.17; 7 trials, 422 participants) is uncertain because the quality of evidence is very low. DDAVP versus tranexamic acidCompared with tranexamic acid, DDAVP may increase the volume of blood transfused (MD 0.6 units, 95% CI 0.09 to 1.11 units; 1 trial, 40 participants) and total blood loss (MD 142.81 mL, 95% CI 79.78 mL to 205.84 mL; 2 trials, 115 participants) (both low-quality evidence).Whether DDAVP increases or decreases the total number of participants transfused with blood is uncertain because the quality of evidence is very low (RR 2.42, 95% CI 1.04 to 5.64; 3 trials, 135 participants).No trial reported all-cause mortality.Whether DDAVP leads to a difference in thrombotic events is uncertain because the quality of evidence is very low (pOR 2.92, 95% CI 0.32 to 26.83; 2 trials, 115 participants). DDAVP versus aprotininCompared with aprotinin, DDAVP probably increases the total number of participants transfused with blood (RR 2.41, 95% CI 1.45 to 4.02; 1 trial, 99 participants) (moderate-quality evidence).No trials reported volume of blood transfused or total blood loss and the single trial that included mortality as an outcome reported no deaths.Whether DDAVP leads to a difference in thrombotic events is uncertain because the quality of evidence is very low (pOR 0.98, 95% CI 0.06 to 15.89; 2 trials, 152 participants).
Most of the evidence derived by comparing DDAVP versus placebo was obtained in cardiac surgery, where DDAVP was administered after cardiopulmonary bypass. In adults undergoing cardiac surgery, the reduction in volume of red cells transfused and total blood loss was small and was unlikely to be clinically important. It is less clear whether DDAVP may be of benefit for children and for those undergoing non-cardiac surgery. A key area for researchers is examining the effects of DDAVP for people with platelet dysfunction. Few trials have compared DDAVP versus tranexamic acid or aprotinin; consequently, we are uncertain of the relative efficacy of these interventions.