Case Study: Transfusion-Free Spine Surgery
Srinath Samudrala, M.D., assistant professor of neurological and orthopaedic surgery and director of neurological spine surgery at USC, was initially skeptical when first approached by Randy Henderson, manager of the USC Transfusion-Free Medicine and Surgery Program, with the request to consider doing spine surgeries without the use of blood. Samudrala regularly performs complex spinal procedures to correct problems involving herniated discs, bone spurs that press on the spinal cord, fractures of the neck, tumors and infections.
He was worried, he says, about how such procedures could be done both safely and blood-free. “Since then, I have found that it can, indeed, be done,” he says. “It takes a skilled surgeon and an anesthesia and surgical team fully versed in the approach. I have performed several operations and they have all been successful.”
Those successes have caused him to reverse his original position: In fact, he says, he now really enjoys the challenge of bloodless surgery, and the fact that it is in so many ways “state-of-the-art” medicine. “If you can do an operation such that the patient does not need a transfusion, the patient will always be better off than if a transfusion was needed,” he says.