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Int J Obstet Anesth. 1999 Apr;8(2):79-84.

Cell salvage in obstetrics: an evaluation of the ability of cell salvage combined with leucocyte depletion filtration to remove amniotic fluid from operative blood loss at caesarean section.

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Department of Anaesthetics Swansea NHS Trust, Singleton Hospital, Swansea, Wales, UK.


During 27 elective caesarean sections, operative blood loss was collected and processed using the Haemonetics Cell Saver 5 and filtered by Pall RC 100 leucocyte depletion filtration. The efficiency of removal of amniotic fluid, and the degree. of contamination with fetal red cells were assessed in the resulting 'cleaned' blood. Cell saver processing effectively removed alpha-fetoprotein from the red cells of 14 patients whose amniotic fluid was removed by separate suction and from nine of the 13 patients whose amniotic fluid was aspirated into the cell saver along with operative blood loss. Cell saver processing and leucocyte depletion filtration completely removed trophoblastic tissue and white cells, but fetal squames were still clearly present in 10, and possibly in 14 samples after processing and fully removed in only two specimens. Amorphous debris was present in all samples after processing. The maximum mass of fetal red cells contaminating any patient's total salvaged blood was 19 ml (range 2-19 ml). Had this been re-transfused into a rhesus-incompatible mother it would have required 2500 i.u. (500 microg) anti-D immunoglobulin to prevent rhesus-immunization of the mother. Contamination of processed caesarean section blood with fetal red cells and fetal squames is defined and its clinical implications discussed, with an overview of the development and current status of cell salvage. Autotransfusion by cell salvage with leucocyte depletion filtration should be considered in life-threatening obstetric haemorrhage and offered to Jehovah's Witnesses.

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