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Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2012 May;18(5):813-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2011.10.043. Epub 2011 Nov 11.

Impact of a conservative red blood cell transfusion strategy in children undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

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Department of Medicine, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


A 2008 randomized trial of critically ill, but stable, children reported the safety of transfusing red blood cells at a hemoglobin threshold of 7 g/dL. In 2009, we adopted the same transfusion criteria in our hematopoietic stem cell transplantation patients. Regression modeling was used to compare data obtained during primary admission for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in calendar years before and after our practice change. Sixty-six patients admitted in the preintervention year were compared with 75 postintervention. Pre- and postpatients were similar in diagnoses and type of transplantations. Postintervention, median hemoglobin pretransfusion significantly decreased from 8.8 g/dL to 6.8 g/dL (P < .0001). In addition, transfused red blood cell units received by patients dropped from 4 (interquartile range [IQR] 3, 8) to 3 (IQR, 2, 5), (P = .002), and number of transfusion days per patients decreased from 4 (IQR, 2,5) to 3 (IQR, 2, 5), (P = .01). There were no differences in length of stay, time to engraftment, or 100-day mortality. Median blood product charges per patient significantly decreased ($3,624 [IQR, $2,265, $6,040] to $2,185 [IQR, $1,812, $3,997], P = .004). Our initial experience suggests that implementation of a conservative transfusion strategy in otherwise stable children undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation appears safe and lowers transfusion exposures.

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