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Microcirculation and blood transfusion: effects of three different types of concentrated red blood cells - preliminary results

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Red blood cell (RBC) transfusions are used to increase oxygen delivery; however, a restrictive transfusion strategy (predefined hemoglobin threshold of 7 g/dl) was demonstrated to be associated with lower mortality and incidence of nosocomial infections than a liberal one [1, 2]. This may be related to the storage process, which could affect the ability of RBCs to transport and delivery oxygen, or to immunomodulating effects of cytokines from residual leukocytes [2]. The aim of the study is to evaluate the effects, on microcirculation of septic patient, of three types of RBCs.


A controlled randomized prospective study on 45 patients with sepsis, severe sepsis or septic shock requiring RBC transfusion. Patients are randomized into three groups receiving: (1) fresh standard RBCs (storage <10 days); (2) leukodepleted RBCs; and (3) old standard RBCs (storage >20 days) respectively. Before and 1 hour after the transfusion, microcirculation is evaluated using sidestream dark-field imaging [3] and near-infrared spectroscopy with a vascular occlusion test. We also monitor temperature, heart rate, mean blood pressure, hemochrome, blood gases, blood lactates and SOFA score.


Preliminary data on 18 patients, six for each group: before and after transfusion, in group 2, but not in groups 1 and 3, there is a trend to an increase in MFIs (P = 0.09), DeBacker score (Figure 1, P < 0.05), PPV (P = 0.07) and PVD (P = 0.07). No relevant differences for other parameters.

Figure 1

De Backer score pre and post transfusion in group 2.


After transfusion, microcirculation seems to be improved in the leukodepleted RBC group with a significant improvement of De Backer score and a trend to improve the other microcirculatory parameters, while in the other three groups there was not this trend.


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    Hebert PC: N Engl J Med. 1999, 340: 409-417. 10.1056/NEJM199902113400601

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    Rosemary L: Blood Transfusion. 2010,8(Suppl 3):S26.

  3. 2.

    De Backer D: Crit Care. 2007, 11: R101. 10.1186/cc6118

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Correspondence to A Donati.

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Donati, A., Damiani, E., Domizi, R. et al. Microcirculation and blood transfusion: effects of three different types of concentrated red blood cells - preliminary results. Crit Care 16, P204 (2012).

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  • Severe Sepsis
  • Blood Lactate
  • Sofa Score
  • Occlusion Test
  • Transfusion Strategy