BACKGROUND: The use of fresh red blood cells (RBCs) is recommended for critically ill patients and patients undergoing surgery, although there is no conclusive evidence that this is beneficial. In this follow-up study, the short-term and the long-term recovery of irradiated, leukoreduced RBCs transfused after either a short storage (SS) or a long storage (LS) period were compared. By consecutive transfusion of RBCs with a SS and LS period, a direct comparison of their survival within the same patient was possible.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Ten transfusion-requiring patients each received a SS RCCs (stored 0-10 days) and a LS RCCs (stored 25-35 days) consecutively. Short-term and long-term survival of the transfused RBCs was followed by flow cytometry using natural differences in RBC antigens between donors and patients. Posttransfusion recovery (PTR) was measured at several time points after transfusion.
RESULTS: The mean 24-hour PTR of SS RBCs is 86.4 ± 17.8 percent and that of LS RBCs 73.5 ± 13.7 percent. After the first 24 hours, the mean times to reach a PTR of 50 percent of the 24-hour PTR (T50) and mean potential life spans (mPLs) of the surviving SS and LS RBCs (41 and 116 days and 41 and 114 days, respectively) do not differ.
CONCLUSIONS: The mean 24-hour PTR of both SS and LS RBCs complies with the guidelines, even in a compromised patient population. The 24-hour PTR of SS RBCs, however, is significantly higher than that of LS RBCs. The remaining population of SS and LS RBCs has a nearly identical long-term survival. Therefore, depletion of the removal-prone RBCs before transfusion may be an efficient approach for product improvement.