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Gynecologic oncology consult: topical hemostatic agents.

Sutures, hemoclips, and electrocautery are the primary means of achieving hemostasis during gynecologic surgery. When these are inadequate or infeasible, topical hemostatic agents can be employed.

Use of these agents has increased by 10%-21% since 2000, yet studies evaluating their use in gynecologic surgery are limited (J. Surg. Res. 2014;186:458-66).

Oxidized regenerated cellulose

Oxidized regenerated cellulose (Surgicel) is made from dissolved oxidized cellulose woven into a dry gauze sheet (J. Urol. 2006; 176:236774). It is applied directly to tissue, creating a scaffold for platelet aggregation and decreasing tissue pH, further activating the clotting cascade (Surg. Infect. [Larchmt.] 2003;4:25562). It is absorbed in 14 days, but can persist for 1 year.

Oxidized regenerated cellulose (ORC) is easily passed through laparoscopic trocars. One study found ORC efficacious in controlling tubal hemorrhage during laparoscopic sterilization (Int. J. Gynaecol. Obstet. 2003;82:221-2). It has also been shown to have bactericidal activity (Surg. Infect. [Larchmt.] 2003;4:25562) and prevent development of peritoneal adhesions (Acta. Chir. Scand. 1978;144:375-8).

Microfibrillar collagen

Microfibrillar collagen (Avitene) is made from bovine collagen in a powder or sponge sheet, and acts as a scaffold for platelet aggregation. It is applied directly to tissue and is absorbed in 3 months. One study found microfibrillar collagen (MC) use during cold knife conization resulted in nonsignificant reduction in operative time and similar hemostatic results compared to Sturmdorf suture (Obstet. Gynecol. 1978;51:118-22). MC also has been used to treat bleeding following uterine perforation and during laparoscopic hysterectomy.


Gelatins (Gelfoam, Surgifoam) are made of porcine collagen in a powder or foam (J. Urol. 2006; 176:236774). It is applied directly to tissue, acting as a sponge to absorb blood. Pressure for several minutes is necessary for optimal hemostasis. Some surgeons moisten gelatins with topical thrombin prior to use, though no trials exist evaluating the efficacy of this maneuver.

Gelatin is absorbed in 4-6 weeks (J. Urol. 2006;176:2367-74) and can be passed through laparoscopic trocars. No studies have evaluated gelatins in gynecologic surgery so its applications are extrapolated from vascular and urologic surgery (J. Urol. 2006;176:2367-74).

Microporous polysaccharide spheres

Microporous polysaccharide spheres (Arista) form a polysaccharide powder made from potato starch. It absorbs water, concentrating platelets and other proteins to accelerate clot formation. It is applied to a dry surgical field and followed with gentle pressure. MPS is absorbed in 48 hours. No studies specifically evaluate the use of MPS in gynecologic surgery.

Topical thrombins

Thrombin (Thrombin-JMI, Evithrom, Recothrom) is derived from bovine, human, or recombinant sources. It converts fibrinogen to fibrin and activates factor XIII, platelets, and smooth muscle constriction (Biologies 2008;2:593-9).

Thrombin is a spray or syringe, and is often used with gelatin foam (Thrombi-Gel) or matrix (FloSeal) (Biologies 2008;2:593-9).

FloSeal use has been reported during ovarian cystectomy (J. Minim. Invasive. Gynecol. 2009;16:153-6) and hysterotomy repair (J. Obstet. Gynaecol. 2012;32:34-5).

During myomectomy, it was associated with decreased blood loss, transfusions, and shorter length of stay (Fertil. Steril. 2009;92:356-60).

Fibrin sealants

Fibrin sealants (Tisseel, TachoSil) are made of thrombin and concentrated fibrinogen from human plasma. They must be mixed prior to application and act by forming a fibrin clot. Tisseel can reduce hemorrhage after loop electrosurgical excision procedure (Gynecol. Obstet. Invest. 2012;74:1-5) and decreases operative time, time to hemostasis, and blood loss during laparoscopic myomecto my (Surg. Endosc. 2012;26:2046-53).

Case reports describe the use of fibrin sealants in the management of obstetrical hemorrhage and hysterotomy repair.

Cost and complications

Hemostatic agents vary significandy in cost, but no comparative cost analyses exist.

One study found that commercial insurance was associated with topical hemostatic agent use during gynecologic surgery (J. Surg. Res. 2014;186:458-66).

Use of ORC has been associated with postoperative abscess and imitation of abscess without true infection, and MC and gelatins can also increase infection risk. The dry hemostatic agents have been associated with thromboembolism. The complications of thrombins and fibrins are related to immune responses or transmission of pathogens. Recombinant thrombin is believed to be the safest option (J. Am. Coll. Surg. 2007;205:256-65).

Floseal has been reported to cause diffuse pelvic inflammation and postoperative small bowel obstruction. Because of possible complications, it is important to use only the needed amount of product, and to dictate use in the operative note.

Despite widespread use of topical hemostatic agents in gynecologic surgery, studies are limited and these agents should be recommended only as adjuncts to conventional methods of achieving hemostasis.

Topical hemostatic agents are recommended for surgical fields that are less amenable to electrocautery, including denuded areas on peritoneal surfaces, and around important heat-sensitive structures such as nerves. The dry matrix agents (ORC, MC, gelatin, and MPS) are most useful in slowly bleeding areas or in patients with a bleeding diathesis. Thrombin and fibrin can be useful in situations when more significant bleeding is encountered. Complications arising from topical hemostatic agents are few.

Given current limited studies, the choice of product continues to depend on patient characteristics and surgeon preference.


Dr. Wysham is a fellow in the department of gynecologic oncology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Roque is a fellow in the gynecologic oncology program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Dr. Soper is professor of gynecologic oncology at UNC-Chapel Hill. Email comments to obnews@frontlinemedcom. com. Scan the QR code to read similar columns or go to
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Title Annotation:OPINION
Author:Wysham, Weiya Z.; Roque, Dario R.; Soper, John T.
Publication:OB GYN News
Date:Jan 1, 2015
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