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The effects of storage of red blood cells on the development of postoperative infections after noncardiac surgery.

Transfusion 2017 November
BACKGROUND: Prolonged storage of red blood cells (RBCs) is a potential risk factor for postoperative infections. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of age of RBCs transfused on development of postoperative infection.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: In this prospective, double-blind randomized trial, 199 patients undergoing elective noncardiac surgery and requiring RBC transfusion were assigned to receive nonleukoreduced RBCs stored for not more than 14 days ("fresh blood" group, n = 101) or for more than 14 days ("old blood" group, n = 98). The primary outcome was occurrence of infection within 28 days after surgery; secondary outcomes were postoperative acute kidney injury (AKI), in-hospital and 90-day mortality, admission to intensive care unit, and hospital length of stay (LOS). As older blood was not always available, an "as-treated" (AT) analysis was also performed according to actual age of the RBCs transfused.

RESULTS: The median [interquartile range] storage time of RBCs was 6 [5-10] and 15 [11-20] days in fresh blood and in old blood groups, respectively. The occurrence of postoperative infection did not differ between groups (fresh blood 22% vs. old blood 25%; relative risk [RR], 1.17; confidence interval [CI], 0.71-1.93), although wound infections occurred more frequently in old blood (15% vs. 5%; RR, 3.09; CI, 1.17- 8.18). Patients receiving older units had a higher rate of AKI (24% vs. 6%; p < 0.001) and, according to AT analysis, longer LOS (mean difference, 3.6 days; CI, 0.6-7.5).

CONCLUSION: Prolonged RBC storage time did not increase the risk of postoperative infection. However, old blood transfusion increased wound infections rate and incidence of AKI.

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