Bleeding Outcomes Associated with Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery and Recent Clopidogrel Exposure


  • Danielle M. Blais
  • Sarah M. Zukkoor
  • Charles Hayes
  • Kerry K. Pickworth
  • Kyle Porter
  • Michael S. Firstenberg



Background: Guidelines recommend discontinuing clopidogrel for at least 5 days before elective coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) to limit blood transfusions and for at least 24 hours before urgent CABG to reduce major bleeding complications. Studies have produced conflicting results regarding whether recent exposure to clopidogrel increases bleeding, the need for intraoperative and postoperative blood products, postoperative complications, and hospital length of stay. We evaluated the effect of clopidogrel exposure on major bleeding at our institution within 5 days of CABG.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of patients who underwent CABG at a tertiary academic medical center. The primary outcome was major bleeding, defined as transfusion of 4 units of packed red blood cells (PRBCs) and/or a need for reexploration. Secondary outcomes included non-life-threatening bleeding, defined as transfusion of 2 units but <4 units of PRBCs; postoperative complications; hospital length of stay; readmission within 30 days of the procedure; and hospital mortality. Major bleeding events were analyzed with a logistic regression model that adjusted for covariates of bleeding risk factors.

Results: Of the 715 patients we reviewed, 169 patients received clopidogrel within 5 days before CABG, and 546 patients did not. A significantly higher incidence of major bleeding was observed in the clopidogrel group compared with the group not exposed to clopidogrel (32% versus 17%, P = .002). After adjusting for covariates, patients exposed to clopidogrel had significantly higher odds of major bleeding (odds ratio, 2.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.3-3.4; P = .003). The groups were similar with respect to postoperative complications, except for infection. The clopidogrel-exposed group had a significantly higher rate of leg site infections (3% versus 0.2%, P = .003).

Conclusions: Clopidogrel exposure within 5 days of CABG is associated with an increased risk of major bleeding.


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How to Cite

Blais, D. M., Zukkoor, S. M., Hayes, C., Pickworth, K. K., Porter, K., & Firstenberg, M. S. (2015). Bleeding Outcomes Associated with Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery and Recent Clopidogrel Exposure. The Heart Surgery Forum, 16(2), E70-E77.