To test the effectiveness of desmopressin in decreasing operative blood loss in major flap reconstructions, 44 hemostatically normal patients with spinal cord injury and pelvic pressure sores participated in a randomized, prospective, double-blind clinical trial. Each patient received a single dose of desmopressin (0.3 μg/kg) or saline placebo intravenously at the initiation of a reconstructive surgical procedure. Preoperative and postoperative hemoglobin, hematocrit, von Willebrand factor, and factor VIII determinations and measurement of intraoperative blood loss and transfusions of packed red cells were recorded. Desmopressin-treated patients experienced a smaller decline in hemoglobin and hematocrit levels postoperatively. In those patients requiring major flap reconstructions, the use of desmopressin significantly decreased intraoperative blood loss and subsequent transfusion requirements. The levels of von Willebrand factor and factor VIII tended to be higher, although not significantly so, in subjects receiving desmopressin. No patient experienced an adverse reaction to the drug. We conclude that a single dose of desmopressin, given immediately preoperatively, is safe and effectively decreases blood loss and transfusion requirements in patients undergoing major flap reconstructive surgery.
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