Frozen red blood cells may be a safe alternative for trauma patients

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Cryopreserved packed red blood cells (RBCs) may be as safe and effective as liquid packed RBCs for initial resuscitation of moderately injured patients in the civilian setting, according to a study in The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery. Adding frozen RBCs to the trauma armamentarium could improve the availability of blood during disasters and other scenarios.

Researchers from the University of Arizona queried the Trauma Quality Improvement Program (TQIP) database for adult trauma patients who received an RBC transfusion within 4 hours of admission. Out of 39,975 patients, the researchers obtained a matched cohort of 483 patients.

Patients who received cryopreserved packed RBCs and liquid packed RBCs had no difference in 24-hour mortality, in-hospital mortality and complication rates.

Thanks to their 10-year shelf life, the use of frozen RBCs could add versatility to the blood supply. “Cryopreservation has the potential to expand our transfusion armamentarium in diverse settings, such as periods of increased usage, disaster scenarios, and rural areas,” the authors wrote.

While cryopreserved red cells are more expensive than liquid blood, the authors say that trauma leaders should consider the financial trade-offs: “Even though a unit of CPRBC can cost two to three times more than a unit of LPRBC, this does not account for the cost of wasted LPRBC units because of their limited storage time and the benefits of long-term self-sufficiency with the use of CPRBC units.”

Read the study:
Nationwide analysis of cryopreserved packed red blood cell transfusion in civilian trauma
Kamil Hanna, MD, Mohamad Chehab, MD, Letitia Bible, MD, Lourdes Castanon, MD, Molly Douglas, MD, Samer Asmar, MD, Michael Ditillo, DO, Andrew Tang, MD, and Bellal Joseph, MD
The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
November 2020 / Volume 89 / Issue 5 / pages 861-866

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