Several recent trials have determined that transfusion of older red blood cells (RBC) are not associated with adverse outcomes. However, it is unknown if the processing method can lead to potential harmful events.
In a new study published in The Lancet Haematology, researchers retrospectively analyzed data from over 91,000 transfusions given to 23,634 adult patients at three hospitals. All RBC units were characterized by storage age (fresh 1-7 days, mid 8-35 days, and old 36-42 days) and the method of processing (red cell filtered or whole blood filtered). Patients transfused with fresh RBCs processed by the whole blood filtration method had a higher risk of in-patient mortality than patients transfused with mid-aged red cell filtered units (HR 2.19, 95% CI 1.09-4.42, p=0.033). Other comparisons by RBC storage age and processing method were not significant. Further studies are needed to evaluate the impact of RBC processing methods on patient mortality.
- Heddle NM, Arnold DM, Acker JP, Liu Y, Barty RL, Eikelboom JW, Webert KE, Hsia CC, O’Brian SF, Cook RJ. Red blood cell processing methods and in-hospital mortality: a transfusion registry cohort study. Lancet Haematology 2016; online March 4, 2016.