Effect of incubation with crystalloid solutions or medications on packed red blood cells

Academic Article


  • BACKGROUND: American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) guidelines suggest that packed red blood cells (PRBCs) be administered through a dedicated intravenous (IV) catheter. Literature supporting this broad-scope declaration are scarce. Obtaining additional IV access is painful, costly, and an infectious risk. We evaluated the effect of co-incubating PRBCs with crystalloids and medications on PRBC hemolysis, membrane deformability, and aggregation, as well as medication concentration. METHODS: PRBCs were co-incubated 5 minutes with plasma, normal saline (NS), 5% dextrose in water (D5W), Plasmalyte, epinephrine (epi), norepinephrine (norepi), dopamine (dopa), or Propofol (prop). Samples were then assessed for hemolysis (free hemoglobin, serum potassium), membrane deformability (elongation index [EI]), aggregation (smear, critical shear stress [mPa]) and drug concentration (High Performance Liquid Chromatography/Tandem Mass Spectrometry [LCMS-MS]). Significance (p ≤ 0.05) was determined by Wilcoxon-paired comparisons or Wilcoxon/Kruskall Willis with post-hoc Dunn's test. RESULTS: Compared to co-incubation with plasma: 1) co-incubation resulted in significantly increased hemolysis only when D5W as used (free hemoglobin, increased potassium); 2) EI trended lower when co-incubated with D5W and trended toward higher when co-incubated with prop; 3) aggregation was significantly lower when PRBCs co-incubated with NS, D5W, or Plasmalyte, and trended lower when co-incubated with epi, norepi, or dopa. Medication concentrations were between those predicted by distribution only in plasma and distribution through the entire intra- and extracellular space. CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that 5 minutes of PRBC incubation with isotonic crystalloids or catecholamines does not deleteriously alter PRBC hemolysis, membrane deformability, or aggregation. Co-incubation with D5W likely increases hemolysis. Propofol may promote hemolysis.
  • Published In

  • Transfusion  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Mladinov D; Yarnoff K; Nagababu E; Berkowitz DE; Lawrence C; Ness PM; Kickler T; Brunker PA; Boyd JS; Dodd-o JM
  • Start Page

  • 2643
  • End Page

  • 2651
  • Volume

  • 59
  • Issue

  • 8