Pre-operative anaemia may significantly affect patient outcomes. Anaemic patients are at increased risk of transfusion, mortality and major morbidity, in proportion to the severity of anaemia. There are three distinct reasons to consider the identification and management of pre-operative anaemia as important:
• Anaemia detected during surgical work-up may be secondary to previously undiagnosed disease, e.g. malignancy.
• To reduce the likelihood of having to resort to transfusion, thus limiting demand on donors and conserving blood supplies for those patients who need it most.
• To avoid unnecessarily exposing surgical patients to potential adverse effects of anaemia, transfusion or both.