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Background

Nondestructive testing of blood components could permit in-process quality control and reduce discards. Tubing segments, generated during red blood cell (RBC) component production, were tested to determine their suitability as a sample source for quality testing.

Study Design and Methods

Leukoreduced RBC components were produced from whole blood (WB) by two different methods: WB filtration and buffy coat (BC). Components and their corresponding segments were tested on Days 5 and 42 of hypothermic storage (HS) for spun hematocrit (Hct), hemoglobin (Hb) content, percentage hemolysis, hematologic indices, and adenosine triphosphate concentration to determine whether segment quality represents unit quality.

Results

Segment samples overestimated hemolysis on Days 5 and 42 of HS in both BC- and WB filtration–produced RBCs (p < 0.001 for all). Hct and Hb levels in the segments were also significantly different from the units at both time points for both production methods (p < 0.001 for all). Indeed, for all variables tested different results were obtained from segment and unit samples, and these differences were not consistent across production methods.

Conclusion

The quality of samples from tubing segments is not representative of the quality of the corresponding RBC unit. Segments are not suitable surrogates with which to assess RBC quality.