BACKGROUND Pediatric craniosynostosis surgery is associated with significant blood loss often requiring allogenic blood transfusion (ABT). This study explores the clinical effectiveness of preoperative erythropoietin (EPO) administration in pediatric craniosynostosis surgery in reducing transfusion requirements. METHODS A systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature was performed for studies published in English language between 1946 and 2015. Inclusion criteria included original
studies in the pediatric population (0-8 years of age) involving preoperative use of EPO in craniofacial procedures with quantitative reporting of perioperative blood transfusion. Extracted data included demographics, hematocrit, hemoglobin, estimated blood loss, number of patients transfused, and amount of ABT. RESULTS Four studies met the inclusion criteria with a total of 117 patients. Patients were divided into 2 groups: EPO versus control. No statistical differences were found in the demographics between the 2 groups. Mean preoperative hematocrit level was higher in the EPO group compared with control (43% vs 35%). The percentage of patients who required ABT and the volume of transfused blood were less in the EPO group (54% vs 98% and 84 vs 283 mL, respectively). Meta-analysis of 3 comparable studies showed a lower proportion of patients who needed blood transfusion in the EPO group. CONCLUSIONS The present meta-analysis demonstrated that preoperative administration of EPO in pediatric craniosynostosis surgery decreased the proportion of patients requiring ABT. In addition, the volume of transfusion was reduced in patients who received EPO. Future randomized studies are needed to establish the cost-effectiveness of routine preoperative EPO administration in craniosynostosis surgery.